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US attempt to improve wildland firefighter shelters fails

Posted at 2:41 PM, May 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-16 17:41:13-04

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Federal officials say an effort to develop a better fire shelter following the deaths of 19 wildland firefighters in Arizona six years ago has failed.

Officials at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise in a decision on Wednesday say the current fire shelter developed in 2002 will remain in use.

Officials say the current shelter combines the most practical level of protection balanced against weight, bulk and durability.

Researchers conducted hundreds of tests and sent four prototypes into the field in 2018. But they ultimately rejected them because of production problems, weight or bulk.

Federal officials hoped to replace the current fire shelter following the 2013 deaths in the Arizona wildfire, among the deadliest for wildland firefighters in U.S. history and the worst since fire shelters became mandatory in 1977.