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Fire Entrapments



Previous Studies of Vehicle Burnovers


Test Procedures and Methods

Test Results



About the Author

Appendix A - Vehicle Entrapment Study Plan

Appendix B - Characterizing Gases Generated in Vehicles and Fire Shelters

Appendix C - Insulated Boxes for Protecting Video Cameras

Also read about engine entrapment incidents:


Fire Entrapments
Comparing Conditions Inside
Vehicles and Fire Shelters

Appendix A-Vehicle Entrapments Study Plan

MTDC Project #6287 Vehicle Entrapments

Conduct of Study Plan

To evaluate factors (heat load, off-gassing) affecting wildland firefighters entrapped in a vehicle, compared to being in a fire shelter adjacent to the vehicle.

Subject several instrumented test vehicles and fire shelters to direct flame contact in several different fuel types:

  1. Southeastern U.S. Palmetto (NFFL 7)
  2. Southeastern U.S. Sawgrass (NFFL 3)
  3. California Chapparral (NFFL 4)
  4. Grass-Brush (NFFL 2).

Fire shelters, both the current model (FS Spec. 5100-320) and various prototypes, will be set up in the immediate proximity of the vehicles to measure fire and heat effects both inside and outside the shelters.

Firefighter PPE will also be placed around filled 5-gallon water bags and laid in the same area as the shelters to assess visual indicators of heat load and fire effects.

Both formal measurements and visual observations will be taken as part of the documentation of this study. These include:

  1. Preburn fuel loading
  2. Postburn fuel loading
  3. Temperature thermocouples
    • Each 6 inches at 0 to 5 feet
    • Each 12 inches at 5 to 10 feet
  4. Off-gassing inside vehicle with FASS packages (IFSL)
  5. Heat flux radiometers.

Desired Photo coverage and support for this study includes:

  1. 35-mm color slides of the setup and conduct of the burns, with postfire results of vehicles, fire shelters and other PPE
  2. "Beta" video taping, same as above in number 1
  3. On-tape interviews of participants during various stages of the burns, with emphasis on the interagency compo-sition of the participants
  4. Aerial videos of burnover from helicopter.

Written documentation of the burn results, and potential outputs from these burns include:

  1. Levels of heat flux by duration
  2. Data logger readings from within vehicle cabs
  3. Technical report on the burns and results
  4. Information articles for technical journals
  5. Presentations and/or poster sessions for fire symposiums
  6. Potential policy letter from WO-FAM on vehicle entrapments
  7. Video production (6 to 10 minutes) on study and results for field.

The following equipment items will be needed onsite for the conduct of the burns:

  1. Vehicles (one engine and one pickup type per burn); provided by local cooperators
  2. Fire shelters (current model and prototypes)
  3. Data-loggers/gas monitors
  4. Fire clothing (shirts, trousers, flight suits, coveralls)
  5. Web gear, shelter cases, gloves, hardhats (for burning)
  6. Flame lengths and duration
  7. Visual indicators of damage to all vehicles and equipment.

In order to obtain quantifiable data from a variety of fuel types and geographic locations, the following study site be used:

  1. Northcentral Florida, in the vicinity of Lake City; the Florida Division of Forestry has agreed to provide excess vehicles at that location to subject to the test fires, as well as personnel to assist the MTDC crew.
  2. Los Angeles County, California. Both LA County Fire and the California Department of Forestry have expressed an interest in participating in this study, and in providing surplus vehicles to be burned. Specific agreement needs to be reached with them. In addition, the California State Fire Marshal had expressed an earlier interest in this study, and will be contacted to see if his office will participate.

Proposed timing for the study burns:

Florida: February 23 to March 1, 1996

California: mid-April to mid-May, 1996.

The following positions will be needed to complete and document the conduct of these burns:

  1. Project Leader (Mangan)
  2. Fire Shelter Specialist (Putnam)
  3. Instrumentation (Gasvoda/DeLand)
  4. Photographer (Kautz)
  5. Forestry Techs (Lee/Petrilli/Weger)
  6. Cooperator Representative
  7. Fire Behavior Analyst (local) vEngine crew (local)
  8. Fire Instrumentation Specialist (Butler)



Dick Mangan
Phone: (406) 329-3849

Florida Division of Forestry-

J.P. Greene
Phone: (904) 488-1728

Jim Karels
Phone: (906) 488-6111

Los Angeles County-

John Harris
Phone: (818) 790-6434

California Department of Forestry-

Dan Francis
Phone: (916) 322-7912

California State Fire Marshal-

Hugh Council
Phone: (916) 262-1908

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