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The Determination of Ground Rates of Travel by Fire Crews using

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					The determination of ground rates of travel by fire crews using escape routes
                in variable fuel types and terrain factors.
                                      Gary R. Dakin
                      Forest Engineering Research Institute of Canada
                        Wildland Fire Operations Research Centre
                         1176 Switzer Drive, Hinton, Alberta Canada T7V 1V3
                            Phone(780) 778 – 3249 Fax (780) 865 – 8266
                                  E-mail Gary.Dakin@gov.ab.ca
                                          http://fire.feric.ca



Abstract

In Alberta an important part of fire safety training is LACES, which is a simple acronym
to remind fire fighters to establish Lookouts, Anchor points, Communications, Escape
routes and Safety zones. Escape routes and safety zones are key criteria that influence
fire fighter safety. Escape routes are predetermined pathways used by fire fighters to
reach a safety zone. Safety zones offer fire fighters a safe refuge from burn over when
threatening fire behavior occurs. The ability of a wildland fire fighter to reach a safety
zone in enough time to ensure personal safety requires investigation. This project will
determine ground travel speeds for Alberta crews in a variety of Canadian Forest Fire
Behaviour Prediction (FBP) fuel types and terrain conditions.

The objectives of this project are to document the travel rates of various types of Alberta
fire crews in four common FBP fuel types and on three slope categories to develop a
field guide of crew rates of travel. The field guide can be used by fire fighters and fire
bosses to assist in determining the time required to reach a given safety zone.


Keywords:   escape routes, safety zones, travel rates, fuel types.




                                                                                          1
Introduction
In Alberta an important part of fire safety training is LACES, which is a simple acronym
to remind fire fighters to establish Lookouts, use Anchor points, have good
Communications, and have known Escape routes and Safety zones.

Escape routes and safety zones are critical for ensuring fire fighter safety. Escape
routes are predetermined pathways used by fire fighters to reach a safety zone. Safety
zones offer firefighters a safe refuge from the possibility of 'burn over' when threatening
fire behavior occurs.

The ability of a wildland fire fighters to reach a safety zone in enough time to ensure
their and the crew’s safety requires investigation. This project will determine ground
travel speeds for Alberta crews in a variety of FBP fuel types and terrain conditions.

The specific objectives of this research project are to:

   measure travel rates of Alberta fire crew members in four FBP fuel types and over
    three slope classes;
   classify escape route travel rate information for Type One-Rappel (including HAC
    sustained action), Type One, Type Two (contract), and Type Three (emergency fire
    fighting crews) to establish whether travel rates vary based on crew type;
   develop a field guide of crew rates of travel (m/min) by fuel type and slope, which
    can then be used by fire fighters to determine the time required to reach a given
    safety zone.


The study will attempt to answer the following seven questions:

       1. At what rate does a fire crew travel?
       2. Do travel rates vary depending on fuel type?
       3. Are there differences in travel rates of individuals carrying equipment and
          packs or without their equipment or packs?
       4. Do travel rates vary based on crew type?
       5. Do travel rates differ between an improved route vs. a natural escape route?
       6. How does slope influence travel rates?
       7. How closely do test results reflect an individual’s maximum physical
          performance?


Field trials will be conducted in the Whitecourt Fire Management District on pre-
established routes through four selected fuel types.




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Methodology
Four types of fire crews employed in Alberta will be used as subjects for the experiment.
Each crew consists of up to eight people, and data will be collected for each individual.
Three groups of each type of crew will be evaluated.

Routes of travel representative of the various Alberta fuel types will be measured and
set out in the Whitecourt area. The four Canadian Forest Fire Behaviour Prediction
(FBP) fuel types selected are:

       O-1b (standing grass),
       S-1 or S-2 (Pine or spruce slash),
       C-2 (Boreal spruce), and
       C-3 (Mature pine).

Each test route will be 250 meters (m) in length. Two types of routes will be used;
improved and natural (or unimproved). Improved routes will have branches trimmed and
deadfall removed. The natural routes will be flagged only to establish the travel corridor
with each test route conducted in an area not previously traveled.

Crewmembers will complete each test with and without equipment. A standard issue
pack with 15 pounds of gear and a fire shovel will be carried as basic equipment.
Standard fireline personal protective equipment and clothing will be worn in all tests.

Heart rates will be measured using a heart rate monitor attached around the chest, and
this data will be downloaded directly into a laptop computer. Data on distance and time
for each participant will be recorded.

An attempt will be made to run all tests under similar environmental conditions: air
temperature, humidity, wind speed, site conditions and time of day. These will be
recorded for each test.

Initially crewmembers will complete the shuttle test on the first morning to determine
their base physical fitness. Each person will run the shuttle test wearing a heart rate
monitor and will run until they can no longer meet the rhythm of the test. This will
provide baseline peak heart rate information to determine the fitness level and the
degree of individual fatigue during the tests. Crewmembers are expected to complete
the field tests at their best speed, while providing for personal safety.

Each crewmember will do all of the following tests (see Table 1) in a random order.
Travel times will be recorded at intervals over a distance of 250 meters.




Table 1 illustrates the complete series of trials that must be carried out for each fuel
type. The impact of terrain on travel rates will only be investigated for two fuel types,


                                                                                            3
because the entire range of slope classes only occurs therein. Where the influence of
slope is considered for a given fuel type, travel rates must be obtained 16 times for each
individual crewmember. Only 4 trials need to be carried out by each crewmember in
those fuel types for which slope is not a factor.



 Table 1. The complete series of trials that must be completed for each fuel type.
  Fuel Type              Mature Pine ( C3 )

  Slope                      Level                   10 % to 30%                    31% to 50%

                  Improved                     Improved        Natural        Improved        Natural
  Trail                         Natural

  Equipment       WP     NP     WP        NP    WP        NP   WP        NP    WP        NP   WP        NP


  WP with equipment and wearing pack
  NP without equipment and not wearing pack




Preliminary Results
The Trial commenced in July 2001.

The following data represent preliminary results of tests in two fuels types. The data
shows the slowest time for each trial. All tests are 250 m in length and the data
compares the times for improved versus natural routes where individuals are carrying
their equipment.


Black Spruce (C2) fuel type.

         The Type I crew traveled 118 seconds faster over an improved escape route
          versus the natural route.

         The Type II crew traveled 60 seconds faster over an improved route versus
          the natural route.

         The Type III crew traveled 101 seconds faster over an improved escape route
          versus the natural route.

Grass (O1) fuel type.




                                                                                                        4
                             The Type I crew traveled 76 seconds faster over an improved escape route
                              versus the natural route.

                             The Type II crew traveled 64 seconds faster over an improved escape route
                              versus the natural route.

                             The Type III crew traveled 146 seconds faster over an improved escape route
                              versus the natural route.

Early results show that any time spent identifying and improving an escape route can
and will save precious time when the route is required.

Similar results were obtained when doing the trials with no packs in the improved route
and natural routes in all of the fuel types. This data is still being processed.

Figure 1. The slowest times recorded in each of the field trials conducted in the Black
Spruce and grass fuel types on level terrain.
                                                  Black Spruce and Grass trials

                    5
                                                                                                        Type 1
                   4.5
                              Black Spruce C2                                                           Type 2

                    4                                                                                   Type 3

                                                                                                        MW Type
                   3.5
                                                                                 Grass O1
                    3
  Time (minutes)




                   2.5


                    2


                   1.5


                    1


                   0.5


                    0
                             PN     PI     NPN   NPI                        PN     PI       NPN   NPI
                                                           Type of Trials


PN Pack Natural
PI Pack Improved
NPN No Pack Natural
NPI No Pack Improved


Acknowledgments


                                                                                                                  5
Wildland Fire Operations Research Centre - Hinton
Forest Engineering Research Institute of Canada (FERIC)
Alberta Sustainable Resource Development; Forest Protection Division
Whitecourt Fire Management District
Whitecourt HAC
Alexander Type II Crew
Whitecourt Type III Crew
Canadian Forest Service
University of Alberta


References

Butler, B.W., Cohen, J.D., Putman, T., Bartlette, R.A. and Bradshaw, L.S.(2000). A
Method for Evaluating the Effectiveness of Fire Fighter Escape Routes. Proceedings
from the International Wildfire Safety Summit Edmonton, Alberta Oct 10-12, 2000.




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