Friday, November 22, 2013

The Inaja Fire and the Standard Firefighting Orders

"Surely these men gave their lives in defense of this country, for without the strength of our forests, water, and other natural resources, this Nation would not be a leader in the free world today." ~ Richard E. McArdle, Chief, Forest Service, January 1957
The Fire
On November 24, 1956, a teenager who wanted to know if a match thrown into dry grass would burn had no concept of the unintended consequences of his actions. Within minutes, this "test" fire  blowup and forever be known as the Inaja fire, claiming the lives of 11 firefighters. We will never forget the sacrifice of our fellow firefighters.
  • Albert W. Anderson (45)
  • Carlton Ray Lingo (19)
  • Forrest B. Maxwell (30)
  • LeRoy Wehrung (41)
  • Miles Daniels (33)
  • Wm. D. Fallin (22)
  • George A. Garcia (41)
  • Virgil L. Hamilton (26)
  • Joesph P. O'Hara (45)
  • Lonnie L. Shepherd (26)
  • Joe Tibbitts (34)
The Fire Orders were developed following the Inaja tragedy.

The Original Standard Firefighting Orders (FIRE SCALDS)
  1. Fire Weather ~ Keep informed of fire weather conditions and predictions.
  2. Instructions ~ Know exactly what my instructions are and to follow them at all times.
  3. Right things first ~ Identify the key points of my assignment and take actions in order of priority.
  4. Escape plan ~ Have an escape plan in mind and direct subordinates in event of blow-up.
  5. Scouting ~ Thoroughly scout the fire areas for which I am responsible.
  6. Communication ~ Establish and maintain regular communication with adjoining forces, subordinates, and superior officers. 
  7. Alertness ~ Quickly recognize changed conditions and immediately revise plans to handle.
  8. Lookout ~ Post a lookout for every possible dangerous situation.
  9. Discipline ~ Establish and maintain control of all men under my supervision and at all times know where they are and what they are doing.
  10. Supervision ~ Be sure men I commit to any fire job have clear instructions and adequate overhead.
The Standard Firefighting Orders Today
  1. Keep informed on fire weather conditions and forecasts. 
  2. Know what your fire is doing at all times. 
  3. Base all actions on current and expected behavior of the fire. 
  4. Identify escape routes and safety zones, and make them known. 
  5. Post lookouts when there is possible danger. 
  6. Be alert. Keep calm. Think clearly. Act decisively. 
  7. Maintain prompt communications with your forces, your supervisor and adjoining forces. 
  8. Give clear instructions and be sure they are understood. 
  9. Maintain control of your forces at all times. 
  10. Fight fire aggressively, having provided for safety first.
The History and Evolution of the 10 Standard Fire Orders

A lot has changed since the Fire Orders were introduced in 1957. The original intent and evolution of the Fire Orders was a module in the 2009 Annual Fireline Safety Refresher. The video, Facilitator Guide, and Student Workbook can be download from the WFSTAR website.

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