The 10 Orders & 18 Watch Outs, illustrated

10 orders 18 situations

The 10 Standard Firefighting Orders and the 18 Watch Out Situations, as referenced in the Incident Response Pocket Guide (IRPG), PMS 461, provide wildland firefighters with a set of consistent best practices and a series of scenarios to be mindful of when responding to a wildland fire.

The 10 Standard Firefighting Orders are organized in a deliberate and sequential way to be implemented systematically and applied to all fire situations.

The 18 Watch Out Situations are more specific and cautionary, describing situations that expand the 10 Standard Firefighting Orders with the intent that if firefighters follow the Standard Firefighting Orders and are alerted to the 18 Watch Out Situations, much of the risk of firefighting can be reduced.

These photos and posters made available by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group could be useful. It’s unfortunate, though, that the text on the poster that contains all 10 and 18 is so small.

Downloads from NWCG:

(Note: the image at the top of the screen is low resolution. Download the zip files above for high resolution versions suitable for printing)

Typos, let us know HERE. And, please keep in mind our commenting ground 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. Google+

7 thoughts on “The 10 Orders & 18 Watch Outs, illustrated”

  1. The Orders and 18 Watch Outs are well founded.
    In every single Regional Fire Review I’ve been involved in, one or m, ore of the Orders were violated, and most often by those in the 2nd tier or above, in a leadership role. What’s even worse, is we knew that they knew better; some with many years of experience. Perhaps the worst case of this, that is somewhat recent, is the loss of the Granite Mtn. Hotshots, when they left the “blackened ridge location” and came down through an unburned brushy draw and got caught by fire.
    A supervisor cannot repeat these Orders and Watch Outs often enough to those who depend on them to make good decisions.

  2. I remember that huge loss of hot shots a few years ago in AZ. Still can’t believe that happened to 18 young and experienced firefighters. I can’t imagine the pain and suffering endured by the firefighters and their families. I feel if just forest fires why not only use airplane to drop retardant.

    1. Christina, simply put, “retardant” will not always put the fire out. Firefighters must follow-up on the fire line to completely extinguish it. That always involves a certain amount of danger.

    2. Christina,
      In addition to not being able to put out large fires, and being very costly, retardant drops over rugged country, with smoke, unstable air, wind gusts, extreme heat, and aerial firebrands and debris make aerial firefighting a potentially very dangerous business.

  3. The 10 and 18 can not be stressed enough. They are the foundation for wildland firefighting. My hope is that every resource responding to fires, whether you are local, state, federal or private, knows these as a habit, and learns more from them at each incident you go to. NWCG should make corrections to print size on these posters, but everyone should know these by heart. Be careful out there, but be productive.

  4. When I began my career with the USFS in 1980 the 10 and 18 is the safety foundation that was drilled into all of us with out exception, we could repeat them in our sleep, point being that when a situation presented its self as hazardous you instinctively new something was wrong, I truly believe that if you adhere to the 10 and 18 that you will come home, the 10 and 18 does not cover trees felling, driving and other hazards associated with FF, it does well to cover fireline safety.
    I like the old color hand drawn 10 and 18 from the 60-70’s much better that the new, maybe because I am from that era, I recall seeing them posted at every fire station and shot camp, a constant reminder….
    Check this out…

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