Objectives (1 of 3)
• Define the terms wildland and ground
• Define light fuels, heavy fuels,
subsurface fuels, surface fuels, and
• Describe how weather factors and
topography influence the growth of
Objectives (2 of 3)
• Define the parts of a wildland and
• Describe how wildland and ground fires
can be suppressed.
• List the hazards associated with
wildland and ground firefighting.
Objectives (3 of 3)
• Describe the personal protective
equipment needed for wildland
• Explain the problems created by the
wildland urban interface.
What are Wildland Fires? (1 of 3)
• Defined by NFPA:
– Unplanned and uncontrolled fires burning
in vegetative fuel that sometimes includes
• Can consume grasslands, brush, and trees of
• Incidence varies from season to season.
• Referred to by different terminology
What are Wildland Fires? (2 of 3)
• Ground cover fires burn loose debris on the
surface of the ground.
• Some fire departments respond to more
wildland and ground fires than to structural
• Many structural fire fighters are called on to
extinguish wildland and ground fires at some
– Must have proper training
What are Wildland Fires? (3 of 3)
• Large wildland fires are handled by
– Each state has an agency designated to
coordinate wildland firefighting.
– There are federal agencies that are
responsible for coordinating firefighting
activities at large incidents.
Wildland and Ground Fires and
the Fire Triangle
• Wildland and ground fires require the same
three elements as structural fires.
– Fuel, oxygen, and heat
• In wildland and ground fires the conditions
under which fuel, oxygen, and heat come
together to produce a fire are different.
• Weather conditions have a great impact on
wildland fire behavior.
The Wildland Fire Triangle
Fuel (1 of 2)
• Primary fuel is area vegetation.
• Amount of fuel in an area ranges from
sparse grass to heavy underbrush and
• Some fuels ignite readily and burn
rapidly when dry.
• Others are harder to ignite and burn
Fuel (2 of 2)
• Vegetative fuels can be located:
– Under the ground (roots)
– On the surface (grass and fallen leaves)
– Above the ground (tree branches)
• Includes dried vegetation such as twigs,
leaves, needles, grass, moss, and light
• Ground duff
– Partly decomposed organic material on a
• Main type of fuel in ground cover fires
• Aid the ignition of heavier fuels
• Includes large brush, heavy timber, stumps,
branches, and dead timber on the ground
– Consists of the leftovers of a logging operation
• Do not spread a fire as rapidly as fine fuels
• Can burn with a high intensity
• Located under the ground
• Roots, moss, duff, and decomposed
• Fires involving subsurface fuels are
hard to locate and extinguish.
• Located close to the surface of the
• Include grass, leaves, twigs, needles,
small trees, and slash
• Brush less than 6' above the ground
• Sometimes called ground fuels
• Involved in ground cover fires
• Also called canopy fuels
• Located more than 6’ above the ground
• Usually trees
• Includes tree limbs, leaves and needles
on limbs, and moss attached to the tree
Other Fuel Characteristics
• May determine how quickly the fuel
ignites, how rapidly it burns, and how
readily it spreads to other areas
Size and Shape of Fuel
• Size and shape of a fuel influences how
• Fine fuels burn more quickly than heavy
• Requires less heat to reach their ignition
• Influences the rate at which a fuel will
• Air cannot circulate in and around fuels
that are tightly compacted.
• Subsurface fuels burn more slowly than
• Refers to the relative closeness of wildland
• Are close together or touch each other
• Allows fire to spread from one area of fuel to
• Have a sufficient supply of air to support rapid
• Burn much more rapidly than fuels that are
• Refers to the quantity of fuel available in
a specific area
• Amount of fuel in a given area
influences the growth and intensity of
• Refers to the amount of moisture contained in
• Amount of moisture in a fuel influences the
speed of ignition, the rate of spread, and the
intensity of the fire.
• Fuels with high moisture content will not
ignite and burn as readily.
• Fuel moisture varies with the amount of rain
that has fallen.
• Oxygen is needed.
• Not usually an important variable in the
ignition or spread of the fire.
• Air movement influences the speed with
which a fire moves.
• Wind speeds the process of combustion
and influences the direction the fire
• Sufficient heat must be applied to fuel in
the presence of adequate oxygen to
produce a fire.
• Three categories of factors may ignite
wildland and ground fires:
– Natural causes
– Accidental causes
– Intentional causes
• Weather conditions have a large impact
on the course of a wildland fire.
Moisture (1 of 2)
• Relative humidity
– Ratio of the amount of water vapor present
in the air compared to the maximum
amount the air can hold at a given
– A major factor in the behavior of wildland
and ground fires
– Varies with the time of day and year
Moisture (2 of 2)
– Moisture falling from the sky helps to
increase the relative humidity.
– Absorbed by plants
• Makes them less susceptible to combustion
– When there is adequate precipitation, fire
risk is lower.
• Has the ability to move a fire at great
• Effect of wind on a wildland and ground
fire is similar to fanning a fire to help it
burn more rapidly
Topography (1 of 2)
• Refers to the changes of elevation in the
land, the position of natural, and manmade
• Has a great impact on the fire behavior
• When fires burn on flat land, much of the fire
heat will rise into the air.
• When the elevation rises in the direction the
fire is traveling, the fire heat ignites a greater
quantity of fuel and increases the speed of
Topography (2 of 2)
• Natural barriers, such as streams and
lakes, may help contain fires.
• Manmade barriers such as highways
also make it easier to contain a fire.
Anatomy of a Wildland Fire (1 of 4)
• Area of origin
– Location where fires begin
• Head of the fire
– Main or running edge of a fire
– Part of the fire that spreads with the
Anatomy of a Wildland Fire (2 of 4)
• Heel of the fire or the rear of the fire
– Side opposite the head of the fire, often
close to the area of origin
– Narrow point of fire caused by a shift in
wind or a change in topography
– Can grow and produce a secondary
direction of travel for the fire
Anatomy of a Wildland Fire (3 of 4)
– A dangerous place for fire fighters because
it is an area of unburned fuel surrounded
on three sides by fire
– An unburned area surrounded by fire
Anatomy of a Wildland Fire (4 of 4)
• Spot fire
– New fire that starts outside areas of the
– Area of unburned fuels
– Areas that have already been burned
Methods of Extinguishment
• Cooling the fuel
• Removing the fuel
Cooling a Wildland Fire
• Water is used to cool.
– Backpack pump extinguishers
– Booster tanks from apparatus
Removing Fuel (1 of 2)
• Removal of fine fuels can be
– Fire broom
– Steel fire rakes
– McLeod fire tool
• Removal of heavier brush:
– Pulaski axe
Removing Fuel (2 of 2)
• Sometimes saws are used to remove
heavy brush and trees from the fire.
– Hand saws to gasoline powered chainsaws
– Tractors, plows, and bulldozers
– When properly set can burn an area of
vegetation in front of the fire, thereby
creating an area devoid of vegetation
Removing the Oxygen (1 of 2)
– Most commonly used when overhauling
the last remnants of a wildland and ground
– Earth is often thrown on smoldering
vegetation to prevent flare-ups.
– Not as useful during the more active
phases of a fire
Removing the Oxygen (2 of 2)
• Compressed air foam systems (CAFS)
– Combines foam concentrate, water, and
compressed air to produce a foam
– Sticks to vegetation and structures in the
– When the heat of the fire reaches the
foam, it absorbs the heat and breaks down
– This cools the fuel.
Types of Attacks
• Direct attack
• Indirect attack
• Mounted by containing and
extinguishing the fire at its burning edge
• Fire fighters might smother the fire with
dirt, use hoses to apply water to cool
the fire, or remove fuel.
• Dangerous to fire fighters because they
must work in smoke and heat close to
• Most often used for large fires that are too
dangerous to approach through a direct
• Mounted by building a fire line
• Can be mounted using hand tools or by using
• Most appropriate when the topography is so
rough that a direct attack is dangerous or
Priorities of Attack
• IC must assess and evaluate the
priorities for preserving lives and
property before determining how to
attack a wildland fire.
Safety in Wildland Firefighting
• Fighting wildland and ground fires is
• Shares many of the hazards of
structural firefighting plus additional
– Driving, falls, smoke and fire, and falling
Hazards of Wildland Firefighting
(1 of 2)
• Driving in rough terrain
– Risk of rollover
• Working in rough terrain
– Risk of falls
• Burns and smoke inhalation
– Wear PPE
– Use SCBA in conditions where needed
Hazards of Wildland Firefighting
(2 of 2)
• Falling trees
– Trees of all sizes can fall with little warning.
• Electrical hazards
– Wires that drop on vegetation may ignite.
– Difficult to see at night and in smoky
Personal Protective Equipment
• One-piece jumpsuit, or a coat, shirt, and
– Meet the requirements of NFPA 1977
– Garments should be constructed of a fire-resistant
material like Nomex®
– Wear an approved helmet with a protective
shroud, eye protection, gloves, and protective
– Respiratory protection
• Filter mask
• Lifesaving piece of equipment
• Thin reflective foil layer attached to a
layer of fiberglass
• Designed to reflect about 95% of a fire’s
radiant heat for a short period of time
• Fire fighters use their fire shelters when
unable to reach safety in time.
Wildland Urban Interface (1 of 2)
• The mixing of wildland with developed
• Creates a massive problem for fire
departments in many parts of the
• Wildland fires regularly ignite buildings
and become structure fires.
Wildland Urban Interface (2 of 2)
• Wildland urban interface
– Explain the mixing of wildland with developed
– Area where undeveloped land with vegetative
fuels is mixed with manmade structures
• Fires in this zone present a significant life
• Many areas do not have adequate municipal
Summary (1 of 2)
• Wildland fires are unplanned and
uncontrolled fires burning in vegetative
fuel that sometimes includes structures.
• Fire fighters need to understand the
factors that cause fire ignition and affect
the growth and spread of wildland fires.
Summary (2 of 2)
• Growth of the fire is influenced by
weather factors and by the topography
of the land.
• Assess and evaluate the priorities for
preserving lives and property.
• The wildland urban interface creates a
massive problem for fire departments.