Fire Shelters Keep Firefighters Safe
Twin Falls, Idaho (KMVT-TV) Wildland firefighters do their best to stay out of trouble on the fireline. But if they get into a potentially dangerous situation, that's when they have to use fire shelters to protect themselves from the extreme heat. The shelters aren't fire proof, and they can't withstand direct contact with flames.
Chris Anthony, Assistant Fire Operations Manager for the Twin Falls Bureau of Land Management office, says, "The flames don't actually hit the fire shelter. But it traps breathable air inside the shelter to allow you to breathe clean air, instead of the smoke and the hot air that can eventually affect the lungs and airways."
The shelter has an outer layer of aluminum foil and woven silica. The foil reflects the fire's radiant heat, and the silica slows the transfer of heat into the fire shelter. Then there's a pocket of air, and an inner layer of aluminum foil and fiberglass.
Anthony says, "If it becomes a direct impingement of flames, what happens is that glue that bonds the aluminum foil and woven silica, it breaks it down and delaminates the fire shelter. Which allows the heat to get in and affect the firefighter in the shelter."
Anthony says firefighters need to be able to open and get inside the shelter within 60 seconds. He says that's because once the flame front hits, the winds that come with it can rip the shelter from your hands.
Anthony says, "Obviously we want to avoid that and be in the right place at the right time instead of the wrong place at the wrong time."
Anthony says the regular size fire shelter costs $280. He says the large version for firefighters 5' 10" and taller runs $350.
Aug. 22, 2012.