Wildfire Glossary

Here is a list of firefighting terms often used in fire incident reports and public information updates:

Anchor Point –An advantageous location, usually a barrier to fire spread, from which to start constructing a fireline; used to minimize the chance of fire wrapping around firefighters while the line is being constructed.
Backing Fire –Fire spreading with slower rates of fire spread and lower intensity; normally moving into the wind and/or down slope.
Burning Operations –Setting fire inside a control line to consume fuel between the main fire and the control line.
Control Line – Inclusive term for all constructed or natural barriers and treated fire edges used to control a fire; also known as a Containment Line.
Complex –More than one fire being managed by an Incident Management Team.
Direct Line – Fireline adjacent to the fire edge.
Engine Crew –Wildland firefighters using fire engines’ capabilities to suppress fires.
Extended Attack –Fire incident complicated enough to need capabilities beyond first responders/initial attack incident command.
Fireline – A line scraped or dug to dirt to impede the spread of fire. Can be dug with hand tools or motorized equipment.
Fuels Reduction –Removal of trees, brush, grass, or debris to reduce likely hood of ignition.
Handline – Fireline constructed with hand tools.
Hand Crew –Crew typically consisting of 18–20 firefighters that primarily construct firelines; regional resource.
Head of a Fire – Most rapidly spreading portion of a fire’s perimeter, usually up slope or downwind side.
Helitack/Heli-Rappel Crew –Wildland firefighters assigned to helicopters. They sometimes rappel into fire areas to utilize the helicopter’s water bucket/water dropping mechanisms to suppress fires and guide pilots to landing zones.
Hot Shot Crew –Intensively trained fire crew (Type-1) of 18-20 firefighters used primarily to construct handlines; a national resource traveling May–October to usually larger fires.
Hot Spotting –Checking for heat, flames (hot spots) near the fireline.
ICP (Incident Command Post) – Location where the majority of fire personnel stay; as opposed to a spike camp. Also known as a fire camp.
Initial Attack –Fire that is generally contained by first responders; full control expected within 24 hours.
Indirect Line – Fireline placed a distance away from the fire edge.
Mop Up –After an area has burned, extinguishing or removing burning material near control lines, felling snags and trenching logs to prevent rolling, to make a fire safe, or to reduce residual smoke.
Snag –A standing dead tree or part of a dead tree which at least the leaves and smaller branches have fallen; a safety hazard to firefighters, because they are unstable and often fall silently without warning after a fire has burned through an area.
Spike Camp –A temporary or secondary camp site away from the ICP and typically closer to the fireline.
Smoke Jumper –A wildland firefighter who parachutes out of airplanes to wildland fires in usually very remote areas to build firelines.
Torching –Phenomenon that occurs when a fire transitions from a surface fire into the crowns of individual trees or small groups of trees and burns briefly and vigorously, but not necessarily from one crown to another.
Type-1 –Hotshot crew
Type-2 –Hand crew