Tennessee Forestry officers demonstrate fire shelters

Forestry officers show the importance of fire shelters used in Ariz. wildfires

Posted:
The shelter goes over the head of the firefighter. The shelter goes over the head of the firefighter.
The firefighter then lays down as the fire passes over him or her and the heat is reflected by the shelter. The firefighter then lays down as the fire passes over him or her and the heat is reflected by the shelter.
"This is our last ditch protection if we are burned over in a fire, if we get in a place we can't escape," said Nathan Waters. "This is our last ditch protection if we are burned over in a fire, if we get in a place we can't escape," said Nathan Waters.

By DREW GARDNER
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE(WATE) - After an elite team of 19 firefighters died while battling wildfires out west, 6 News is finding out more about the technology they used while trying to survive.

The team of fallen firefighters was known as a "hotshot" crew. They are trained for the worst possible conditions and were armed with technology created for the worst case scenario.

"This is our fire shelter," demonstrated Assistant District Forester Nathan Waters. "This is what all firefighters that work with wildland fire carry, federal and state. This is our last ditch protection if we are burned over in a fire, if we get in a place we can't escape."

The Tennessee Division of Forestry has trained on these same fire shelters for years.

Waters says the idea is to find a spot clear of debris. You then get inside and fall to the ground until the fire passes which can take as little a few seconds and as much as 15 minutes.

Even if the fire passes quickly crews are still exposed to dangerously high temperatures.

"The idea of that is even if you have fire going over you, this reflects the radiation and protects you from the heat," said Waters.

Like the fire crews out west, the East Tennessee District has never had to use the shelters, but says they have regular training on them just in case.

"We look at safety refreshers every year," said Waters. "We go through how to fall into the fire shelters. Federal, state, everybody does."

Waters says a safety review of the events out west will be done to help other agencies better prepare.

"We can look at it and try to make sure we don't repeat mistakes and that's key. We always try to do that. If something does happen, we look at it and we don't want to repeat it," said Waters.   

Now, they plan to use the tragedy as a reminder of how unpredictable wildfires can be, even for the most experienced crews.

The East Tennessee District of Forestry says they have never lost any crews during past wildfires. 

Powered by WorldNow

1306 N. Broadway NE Knoxville,
Tennessee 37917

Telephone: 865.637.NEWS(6397)
Fax: 865.525.4091
Email: newsroom@wate.com

Can’t find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Young Broadcasting of Knoxville, Inc. A Media General Company.