Firefighter Safety Alert - Roadway Operations

In the last two weeks in Oklahoma, three fighters engaged in wildland firefighting responses are known to have sustained serious injuries due to being hit by vehicles.   While each of the three individuals are expected to make a full recovery from their injuries, the outcome from each incident could have proved fatal. 

Since the peak of Oklahoma’s Spring Fire Season is rapidly approaching, please take the time to develop or review your Department’s protocols for roadside response.  Below are a few Tactical Considerations* to consider when responding to wildfires that occur near a roadway:

· Anytime traffic flow is affected by the incident, contact the jurisdictional law enforcement agency for assistance.

· Conduct all operations as far from traffic lanes as possible to provide for crew and public safety.

· Park units on the same side of the roadway whenever possible to avoid traffic congestion.

· Exit the fire apparatus away from the roadway or where hazard exposure is minimized.

· Exit the fire apparatus with full personal protective equipment.

· Post a lookout to watch for and control oncoming traffic.

· Utilize forward and rear spotters when visibility is impaired or road conditions warrant.

· Utilize and place traffic warning signs whenever possible

· If equipment needs to be removed from the traffic side of the apparatus, one person will retrieve the equipment and a lookout will watch for oncoming traffic.

· Engine operators will operate pumps from the non-traffic side or from the cab of the apparatus when possible. Keep all hose, fire tools, and equipment out of traffic lanes when possible.

· Ensure apparatus emergency lighting and headlights are in use to maximize visibility.

· During night operations firefighters should maximize visibility by utilizing reflective clothing, vests and other safety equipment such as headlamps as necessary.

· During daylight and low visibility roadside responses, wear hi-visibility clothing to maximize safety.

· All emergency responses on roadways will be concluded as quickly as possible to reduce personnel exposure.


NOTE:   Each agency emergency vehicle operator should follow State laws and department/agency policies governing the operations of emergency vehicles.


* For a full text of Roadside Incident Response and many other pertinent wildfire safety topics visit the Wildfire Lessons Learned website at


Other valuable reference documents concerning Responder safety from the U.S. Fire Administration can be found at the following links: 


Emergency Vehicle and Roadway Operations Safety


Emergency Responder Safety Institute -