The National Wildfire Coordinating Group’s Equipment Technology Committee has released a safety warning concerning wildland fire shelters PDF sold on the open market that do not meet U.S. Forest Service specification 5100-606 PDF requirements. As critical pieces of life-saving equipment, fire shelters must be built to strict specifications to prevent serious injury or death in the event of an entrapment or burnover.
The safety warning contains detailed instructions and photos to guide firefighters on what to look for when inspecting their fire shelter to determine if it does or does not meet the 5100-606 specification. Safety concerns include:
- Untested shelters constructed with materials that don’t meet the Forest Service specification requirements may release hazardous toxicants to the shelter occupant.
- Shelters with deviations from the 5100-606 specification may result in the shelter not deploying as designed.
- Inspect any non-FedMall fire shelter purchases to verify they are built to specification 5100-606.
- Remove from service and do not carry on the fireline any fire shelter that does not meet the 5100-606 requirements.
Other fire shelter recommendations
All fire shelters, regardless of supplier, should be inspected upon receipt to ensure that:
- The shelter is built to specification 5100-606.
- All shelter components are accounted for.
- The shelter meets specification requirements.
- The shelter was not damaged during shipping or storage.
What is a fire shelter?
A wildland fire shelter is a portable, rapidly deployable shelter that looks somewhat like an oversized sleeping bag. If a wildfire suddenly changes direction or speed and a firefighter becomes trapped by flames, their last resort may be to deploy and enter a fire shelter for protection against radiant heat and smoke.
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