What is a Fire Pack?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
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  • Last Modified Date: 15 December 2019
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A fire pack is a backpack specifically designed for use by wildland firefighters, people who fight forest fires. These fire professionals have some unique needs when it comes to carrying and using packs. Fire packs are highly configurable, allowing fire personnel to adjust a pack to meet their needs for any given deployment, and they are also designed to be very durable. Several companies manufacture this product and it can be ordered through firefighting supply catalogs, as well as directly through manufacturers.

Wildland firefighters need to carry equipment like a fire shelter, picks, and other tools, along with reserves of water. A fire pack usually has broad, configurable webbing straps to distribute the weight of equipment comfortably over the firefighter's back. An assortment of bags of various sizes can be clipped and strapped to the webbing, allowing the firefighter to create what amounts to a custom backpack. Being able to move attachments around allows firefighters to balance weight to address chafing and other issues, such as equipment banging against the back or legs while hiking or digging.


Materials used for fire pack production tend to be rugged and durable. Resistance to heat and water is usually desirable, although fire packs are not fireproof. Quick access to key equipment like fire shelters is also critical. During training, firefighters will receive information on configuring their fire packs and quickly deploying necessary equipment. Usually, experienced firefighters develop their own systems for packing and configuring their equipment based on their experiences in the field and they can provide advice and assistance to new crew members.

Depending on the company or agency a firefighter works for, basic equipment may be provided or may be the responsibility of the firefighter. Firefighters required to purchase their own gear may be asked to select from an approved list of products or be permitted to use the gear they feel most comfortable with. If gear is provided by an employer, firefighters can sometimes access several options to assemble a kit suitable for their needs.

Like other firefighting gear, a fire pack benefits from regular maintenance. The materials are rugged and should resist wear and tear, but it can be advisable to periodically wash a pack, check it over for damage, and address any fraying straps, torn bags, and other parts of the pack. Equipment failures in the field can be a nuisance at best and potentially very dangerous at worst, especially if damage to a fire pack leads to loss of gear.


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