Statistics on Causes of Entrapment in Wildfires

ISK Fire Survival

From ISK, we have identified several relevant studies that analyze the statistics and causes behind firefighter fatalities in wildfires due to entrapment or being caught by fire:

  1. Studies by Gibos and others (2022) raise the question of why, despite continued efforts, it is still not known how to prevent firefighter entrapments in wildfires. The study suggests the need for a more comprehensive analysis of entrapment incidents to improve operational and strategic decision-making and reduce the risk of entrapment.
  2. Page, Freeborn, Butler, and Jolly (2019) reviewed the relevant literature and synthesized existing data to advance our understanding of the causes of firefighter entrapments, noting that these typically occur when fire behavior quickly deviates from what is expected, becoming extreme and compromising escape routes
  3. Penney, Habibi and Cattani in 2020 analyzed vehicle protection systems to improve firefighters’ survival during entrapments and burns, identifying points of failure in existing systems and recommending increasing the performance threshold of these systems. It is these types of system upgrades that the ISK Fire Survival ® Kit increases the odds of survival for firefighters
  4. Cardil, Delogu, Mariano, Molina-Terrén and Miguel in 2017 analyzed deaths in forest fires in Sardinia, identifying entrapment as the most frequent cause of death among professional firefighters, with 75.6% of cases, and highlighting the size of the fire and extreme weather conditions as key factors in the occurrence of fatality. The implementation of an action protocol in case of entrapment, such as the one obtained by implementing the ISK Fire Survival ® kit teams, is the best solution for the reduction of these deaths.

These studies highlight the complexity and multiple factors that contribute to firefighter deaths in wildfires, including aspects of fire behavior, tactical and operational decisions, and the importance of adequate protection systems to improve firefighter safety.