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Lookouts - Communications - Escape Routes - Safety Zones


In the wildland fire environment, four basic safety hazards confront the firefighter:

  • lightning,
  • fire-weakened timber
  • rolling rocks
  • entrapment by running fires
Each firefighter must know the interconnection of LCES -
  • lookouts
  • communications
  • escape routes
  • safety zones

LCES should be established before fighting the fire: Select lookouts, set up a communications, choose escape routes, and select safety zones.

LCES functions sequentially - it's a self-triggering mechanism. Lookouts assess -and reassess - the fire environment and communicate threats to safety; firefighters use escape routes to safety zones. All firefighters should be alert to changes in the fire environment and have the authority to initiate communication.



LCES is built on two guidelines:

  • Before safety is threatened, each firefighter must know the LCES system will be used,
  • and LCES must be continuously reevaluated as fire conditions change.
The LCES system approach to fireline safety is an outgrowth of my analysis of fatalities and near misses for over 20 year of active fireline suppression duties. LCES simply focuses on the essential elements of the standard FIRE ORDERS. It's use should be automatic in fireline operations, and all firefighters should know the LCES interconnection.