International Journal of Wildland Fire International Journal of Wildland Fire Society
Journal of the International Association of Wildland Fire

Firefighter Safety Zones: A Theoretical Model Based on Radiative Heating

BW Butler and JD Cohen

International Journal of Wildland Fire 8(2) 73 - 77
Published: 1998


Quantitative information regarding safety zone size for wildland firefighters is limited. We present a 3-surface theoretical model that describes the net radiant energy transfer to a firefighter standing a specified distance from a fire of specified height. Model predictions compare favorably with qualitative data from entrapments on four wildfires and two previously published models. Calculations indicate that for most fires, safety zones must be greater than 20 m wide to ensure firefighter survival. A general rule-of-thumb derived from this work is that a safety zone radius must be equal to or greater than 4 times the maximum flame height.

Keywords: Net radiant energy transfer; entrapment; wildfires; safety zones

© IAWF 1998

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