Safety Warning 23-01: Non-Specification Fire Shelters

Fire shelters that are not manufactured to specs are being advertised and sold as meeting Forest Service (FS) specification 5100-606 requirements. These shelters are made from unknown materials and components that have not been tested and certified, and the materials could affect the performance and safety of the non-specification fire shelter if deployed on a fire.

Safety Warning

These shelters are sold as the M-2002 fire shelter. The National Technology and Development Program (NTDP) was alerted on February 22, 2023 about these fire shelters by a contractor who inspected their shelters upon delivery.

Subject matter experts with NTDP evaluated the shelters and determined they did not meet FS specifications that govern the materials and components deemed safe for fire shelter use. Specification fire shelter materials have been extensively tested for toxicity; they do not release toxicants that would harm a shelter occupant. Shelters constructed with materials that don’t meet requirements have not been tested and may release hazardous toxicants to a shelter occupant. NTDP has not yet completed testing of the thermal performance of these non-specification fire shelters, but a visual inspection shows deviations that will mean the shelter does not deploy as intended. Any non-FedMall (open market) fire shelter purchases should be inspected to verify that they are built to specification 5100-606.

Any non-specification fire shelter should be removed from service and NOT CARRIED ON THE FIRELINE. IN THE EVENT OF AN ENTRAPMENT OR BURNOVER, SERIOUS INJURY OR DEATH COULD OCCUR.

The noticeable differences between specification and the non-specification fire shelters can be identified by the following.

> Carry case:
• Absence of hard plastic liner
• Missing stenciling on Use Instructions pocket
• Missing sewn-in label

> Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) bag:
• For the Large fire shelter, the pull strap is missing LARGE stenciling (FYI the pull strap for Regular fire shelters is yellow and not labeled)
• Missing paper insert label

> Fire shelter:
• Missing LEFT HAND and RIGHT HAND stenciling on shake handles
• Uneven and loose folding of the shelter not in a brick shape

The non-specification fire shelters are made from unknown materials and components that do NOT meet specification 5100-606. Use of the non-specification fire shelter during an entrapment or burnover may result in serious injury or death. For federal agencies, the Interagency Standards for Fire and Aviation Operations (Red Book), Chapter 7: Safety and Risk Management specifies that firefighters must carry an M-2002 fire shelter built to FS specification 5100-606 while on the fireline.

Questions? Please contact:
David Maclay-Schulte, Equipment Specialist 406-329-3965

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All federal firefighters should purchase shelters directly from FedMall. State and local government firefighters may be able to register for FedMall access through the State and Local Government Purchasing Program. Those purchasing outside of FedMall should ensure they purchase fire shelters from reputable suppliers.

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The fire shelters identified in this Safety Warning are the only known non-specification fire shelters currently sold on the open market, but that does not mean there aren’t others.

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All fire shelters, regardless of supplier, should be inspected upon receipt to ensure that all components are accounted for, the shelter meets specification requirements, and that no damage has occurred during shipping or storage. Contact NTDP if you suspect you have purchased or stored a non-specification fire shelter.

Additional information on shelters is posted on the Fire Shelter and Personal Protective Equipment Subcommittee website.

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