Engines & Handcrews: At The Frontline
Engines and hand crews are at the frontline of wilderness and/or Wildland Urban Interface fires. When a fire first breaks out, an initial attack crew-- either an engine or handcrew-- will immediately respond to the outbreak.
Engine crews vary in size and capabilities, but usually include at least three trained firefighters, a few hundred gallons of water (and up to 1000 gallons or more) and foam concentrate, roll-out hose-reels with spray nozzles, chain saws, protective gear, various hand-tools (for constructing fire-line) and additional fire-hose to combat a blaze.
Hand crews usually consist of approximately 18-20 trained firefighters (including a crew boss and individual squad bosses), each armed with chainsaws or line-constructing tools (pulaskis, shovels, hazel hoes, rakes, etc.,) protective nomex pants and shirts, fire shelters and hard-hats. These individuals may utilize bladder bags (40 lb. water packs with spray nozzles), but mainly rely on hand-tools and saws to construct a line around the perimeter of a fire.
photos: Ian Keusink