The fire shelter is an aluminized cloth tent that offers protection in a wildfire entrapment situation by reflecting radiant heat and providing a volume of breathable air.
Wildland firefighters in the United States have carried fire shelters since their development in the 1960s. All federal, state, and local agency firefighters have been required to carry them since 1977.
Firefighters train extensively in fire entrapment avoidance, so fire shelters are used in the very rare occurrence of a fire entrapment where firefighters feel the shelter is needed for protection from heat, smoke, and/or ember showers. The greatest threats a firefighter faces during an entrapment situation are burns to the body and inhalation of hot gases, which can cause asphyxiation. Scientific estimates of the maximum survivable air temperature vary, but dry air temperatures as high as 150 °C (300 °F) are considered survivable for only very short periods of time. However, a tenable...
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- National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) (2003) The new generation fire shelter, PMS 411, National Interagency Fire Center, Boise. 64 p. Pamphlet and video available at https://www.nwcg.gov/publications/411
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