Encyclopedia of Wildfires and Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) Fires

Living Edition
| Editors: Samuel L. Manzello

Fire Shelter

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-51727-8_197-1


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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  1. Anderson L, Petrilli T (2003) New generation fire shelter developed for wildland firefighters. Tech Tip 0351–2313P–MTDC. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Missoula Technology and Development Center, Missoula, 10 p.Google Scholar
  2. Interagency Fire Shelter Task Group (n.d.) Wildland fire shelter: history and development of the new generation fire shelter. https://www.fs.fed.us/t-d/programs/fire/documents/shelhist.pdf
  3. National Technology and Development Program (NTDP) (2015) 2014 Fire shelter project review, USDA Forest Service, 6 pp. https://www.fs.fed.us/t-d/programs/fire/documents/2014FireShelterCommPlanFinal041515.pdf
  4. 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
  5. National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) Fire Shelter Subcommittee (2019a) Outcome of fire shelter review project, Equipment Technology Committee ETC memo 19-01, 3 pp. https://www.nwcg.gov/sites/default/files/memos/eb-m-19-001a.pdf
  6. National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) (2019b) WFSTAR, catalog. https://www.nwcg.gov/publications/training-courses/rt-130/wfstar-catalog

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Technology and Development ProgramUSDA Forest ServiceMissoulaUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Sara McAllister
    • 1
  1. 1.USDA Forest ServiceRMRS Missoula Fire Sciences LaboratoryMissoulaUSA