Facilitated Learning Analysis, Entrapment Avoidance on Black Hills National Forest (updated)

BLNF entrapment avoidance

BLNF entrapment avoidance

The day after Trampus Haskvitz was entrapped and killed on the Coal Canyon fire on the Black Hills National Forest in southwest South Dakota, another entrapment was avoided on the same fire. Here is an excerpt from the summary of a Facilitated Learning Analysis (FLA) that was recently released:

The afternoon of August 12 during burnout operations on Division Zulu, firefighters experienced a sudden increase in fire behavior and were forced to implement entrapment avoidance procedures that resulted in no injuries to personnel. During the event a crew vehicle caught on fire and sustained significant damage to the rear of the vehicle. The leaders involved made good decisions that resulted in a good outcome for their crews.

The positives about this FLA:

  • This FLA was done. The Black Hills National Forest deserves credit for initiating it and for releasing it quickly. Lessons can and will be learned.
  • It is extremely well written. The person(s) that wrote and/or edited it is very skilled. I hope they are used to write future FLA’s. The images and maps are very useful.

The parts that have me scratching my head:

  • Early in the firing operation, at 1300, the Crew Boss described the fire behavior as nothing out of the ordinary. Then the Crew Boss used a flare pistol to develop interior heat, and noticed that “the grass is igniting from the flare sparks and spreading readily before the flare hits the ground”. The Crew Boss ceased use of the flare pistol.
  • The fire behavior leading up to the incident was not what the firefighters expected for the area.
  • In the morning two engines were assigned as lookouts, but in the afternoon they were used as direct suppression resources. I was unable to find any other reference to lookouts being used in the afternoon, or that anyone clearly had the “big picture”. Maybe someone did. The entrapment avoidance near-entrapment occurred around 1500.
  • I could find no reference to an Operations Chief, and very few mentions of a Division Supervisor.
  • On the same fire the day before, several people and an engine were burned over and a firefighter was killed. Another firefighter has serious 3rd degree burns and is in a burn center.

The entire FLA is below. Click on Fullscreen for easier reading.
[scribd id=62953539 key=key-2by1p71urwwt4dtlxgx6 mode=list]

Typos, let us know HERE, and specify which article. Please read the commenting rules before you post a comment.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

4 thoughts on “Facilitated Learning Analysis, Entrapment Avoidance on Black Hills National Forest (updated)”

  1. I appreciate both of your comments. I know its not practical in the field but I would feel a lot better if nobody fueled a hot chainsaw either. At the very least it would be nice to have a fire extinguisher standing by but as I said its not practical in the field.

    A while back I noticed just inside the door of the Local Wal Mart they have positioned a 20 pound Purple K extinguisher.

  2. I see here we have reverted to the old terms in refering to fire extingulishers. But being in the older group I can understand it. Old habits are hard to break.

    Extingulishers on vehicles are intended to buy time to get people out of a vehicle. Once a modern vehicle loaded with plastics, airbags, bumper shocks, etc, start to burn things start exploding placing every one at risk. There are some very nasty vapors given off also. Been there, seen it happen, a front bumper blow off fly 150 feet and start another fire.

    Now not being there and not knowing all the facts I’m not going to judge the crew actions that saved the FS truck. It worked and no one got hurt.

    What I will say is that any vehicle extingulisher should be a tri-class ABC, wood/oil-gasoline/electrical materials. For that matter just get a tri-class for any extingulisher, it covers all the bases for a few dollars more. For size think of the need. We keep a 1A10BC in our kitchen, 2.5 lbs for the old dogs. A few steps away I keep a 10A80BC in the laundry room, about 15lbs. That bad boy will contain some serious fire, along with making a big mess! Any thing over 20lb, (20A120BC) in weight is going to be hard to handle for some people.

    I have told my family get out the people, call 911 and IFconditions permit try to contain the fire till the pro’s arrive. In my case about 6 minutes.

    Training is a key factor in using extingulishers. Gather up the old ones at your unit, get a qualified instuctor and a burn pan and learn to do it the right way. SAFETY FIRST.

    Now I better go out and check the status of my vehicle 1A10BCs (2.5lb) extingulishers.

    Stop by for coffee and I can tell you about a lot of near misses on vehicle fires.

  3. I am wondering if the comment on equipping vehicles with a 5 pound fire extinguisher might be a typo. Current municipal fire department doctrine requires at least an inch and a hlf or inch and three quarter handline and SCBA’s on vehicle fires. One inch booster lines are out.
    In a wildland situation I wouldnt want to attack a vehicle fire with anything less than a 20 pound dry chem with a second one backing me up and more preferably a 30 pound dry chem with a 30 pounder backing me up.

    1. Chris, all the points you brought up are good ones. But I believe in the FLA they are talking about equipping pickup trucks that are used by hand crews. I am guessing that the expected use would be to extinguish a fire that had just started in the engine compartment of that vehicle, and would very rarely be used to attack an established fire in another vehicle. But I could be wrong. We used to carry a 20-lb. dry chemical extinguisher on our Model 60 engine when I worked for the USFS, but I can’t remember it ever being used. Of course we had 500 gallons of water and foam.


Comments are closed.