USA — The U.S. Forest Services Washington office has directed their Technology and Development Center to conduct a review of the fire shelter system, which includes the fire shelter, fireline pack, practice shelters, and training. The Forest Service said the review had been scheduled to begin in 2015, but due to factors both internally and externally, the WO-FAM requested this review process start in 2014.
One of those factors is of course the deaths of 19 firefighters on the Yarnell Hill Fire on June 30, 2013 in Arizona. They all deployed shelters, but none of them survived, however it is not certain if they were all completely inside the devices when they were overrun by the fire. This review, which will include a search for different, more heat-resistant lightweight materials, may find that in order to protect firefighters entrapped in 2,000-degree flames they would have to carry something that would be too bulky and heavy to transport for 16 hours a day over steep terrain while constructing fireline on a hot day. Or, there might be a technological breakthrough with a radical new design and unthought-of materials.
This review will take three years, but one of the first steps is surveying firefighters for input.