Downhill / Indirect Line Construction Guidelines
Downhill / Indirect line construction in steep terrain
and fast burning fuels should be done with extreme
The following guidelines should be followed:
The decision is made by a competent firefighter
after evaluating the situation.
Downhill line construction should not be attempted
when fire is present directly below the proposed
The fireline should not lie adjacent to a chute or
chimney that could burn out while the crew is in the
Communication is established between the crew
working downhill and crews working toward them from
below. When neither crew can adequately observe the
fire, communications will be established between the
crews, supervising overhead, and a lookout posted
where the fire can be seen.
The crew must be able to rapidly reach a Safety Zone
from any point along the line if the fire
unexpectedly crosses below them.
A downhill line should be securely anchored at the
top. Avoid underslung line if at all possible.
Line firing should be done as the line progresses,
beginning from the anchor point at the top. The
burned out area provides a continuous safety zone
for the crew and reduces the likelihood of fire
crossing the line.
Be aware of and avoid the 18 Watch Out Situations.
Fully comply with the 10 Standard Fire Orders.
Richard Mangan USDA Forest Service
Technology & Development Program
Missoula, Montana USA
Last updated 4 November 2014