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May 2020 - Wildfire Hazards: Phase Congestion

Alert of the Month

This series of safety alerts for May, June and July is intended for all workers, both forestry workers and fire crews, responding to fires and highlights hazards that exist in a wildfire environment. The first hazard in this series is related to “phase congestion”.

Phase congestion is when different types of work occurring simultaneously in a single worksite become bunched up, overcrowded or jammed (i.e. congested) compromising the safe and efficient operation of the work being performed.

During a wildfire, it is common for heavy equipment, fallers, aircraft and firefighters to all be working in close proximity. This integration is necessary, but if the work is not planned, communicated and controlled in an effective manner, these phases may conflict and lead to significant injury or even death. Potential for phase congestion can be further increased due to complicating factors such as smoke and threats to values, such as homes, equipment, and timber.

Poor planning is often a significant contributing factor to phase congestion. It can be from a tactical level, for example, where resources are assigned on the fire, or from a strategic level, such as how the fire is managed.

Some planning issues to be addressed are:
 

Poor communication is also one of the most problematic issues in wildfire and is one of the biggest contributing factors of phase congestion. Improving communication can lead to a high degree of risk mitigation in phase congestion.

Some communication issues to be addressed are:
 

The nature of fire can also cause issues that lead to phase congestion.
 

Supervisors need to pay close attention to the issues that can lead to phase congestion and quickly implement appropriate controls. Integrating the phases through good planning, communication, and operational control will lead to a safe and effective fire response.

Additional Resources
 

 

File attachments
aom_2020-05.pdf
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