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Emergency shelters are lifesaving tools for firefighters

Emergency shelters are lifesaving tools for firefighters

Firefighters in Colorado are required to carry an emergency shelter when fighting wildfires.  Emergency shelters are made of fiberglass cloth with an aluminum overlay that reflects heat.

According to Fire Chief Bob Harvey with Black Forest Fire, the emergency shelters can withstand temperatures near 600 degrees.  Temperatures beneath the shelter where the firefighters are lying can rise to 200 degrees.

"To go into a fire shelter is absolutely the firefighter's last resort for survival," said Harvey.

Firefighters typically wear the 6.5-pound packs on their belts or chests for quick access.

Harvey said firefighters are trained to deploy the shelter in less than 25 seconds.  Firefighters lay flat on the ground beneath the shelter, with their feet toward the fire so their heavy boots absorb the most heat and their head absorbs the least.

Older models of the shelters resemble a tent, while newer models are more rounded, making them more aerodynamic. 

The shelters cost about $380 each.

"That's actually a very cheap price to pay for the safety of our firefighters," said Harvey.

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