Safe deployment of fire service vehicles

Control Measure Knowledge

When vehicle pumps are being used they can result in a large quantity of firefighting run-off water or foam, which can cause the surrounding area to become very soft. This may cause a hazard for any vehicles parked in, or needing to drive through, the area.


When attending a wildfire incident, predicted firespread and other hazards need to be carefully considered before a decision is made on how and where vehicles are to be parked. Personnel may need to operate some distance away from their vehicle, which means it will take longer to relocate parked vehicles.

Vehicles should be parked:

  • Using any barriers that may provide protection
  • Facing in the direction of the identified escape route

Vehicles should not be parked:

  • In areas of flammable vegetation or fuel
  • Upslope and/or downwind of the fire
  • On saddles or re-entrants
  • Under power lines or tree canopies
  • Where they may block an access, egress or escape route

Vehicles may be moved around a wildfire incident for multiple uses including:

  • Direct attack – driving along a fire line and applying water or retardant
  • Indirect attack – creating control lines, such as a tractor towing a swipe or flail
  • Transporting personnel and equipment

Any moving vehicle at a wildfire incident presents a number of hazards both to the driver/crew and to other personnel deployed at the incident. The likelihood and severity of some of these hazards may be increased when vehicles are moved off-road and/or over rough terrain.

The main hazards associated with moving vehicles at wildfire incidents are:

  • Vehicle collisions with people, animals or other vehicles
  • Vehicle contact with electrical hazards
  • Overturning vehicles
  • Entrapment of moving vehicles

Particular care needs to be taken to ensure that vehicle escape routes are continually identified, monitored and communicated to the drivers and crews of vehicles being used at wildfire incidents. Contingency plans should also be put in place in case a vehicle and/or its crew become trapped.

When using vehicles for direct attack, it is best practice to keep them within the black area (burned area). This helps to reduce the likelihood of vehicles and personnel being outflanked by the wildfire.

Strategic Actions

Tactical Actions