It looks like the foil covering on a baked potato, costs $350 dollars and is the final line of defense for firefighters battling unpredictable wildland blazes.
It’s called a fire shelter.
At the Cal Fire Academy in Ione, firefighters are given 30 seconds to deploy the shelter, face down in the dirt – 30 seconds to save their lives.
“When you pull a fire shelter, you’ve exhausted any other means of escape. It’s something no firefighter ever wants to do, ” said Cal Fire Division Chief Mike Ramirez.
In the past decade, technology has improved and the shelters, once thin, are now 13 layers thick, but still the only thing protecting firefighters from hellish, unthinkable conditions. “The reason it has to stay so tight is because we have up to 70 mile an hour winds that will try to blow him and blow his shelter off of him,” Ramirez said.
Inside the shelter, a firefighter hopes to have enough oxygen to breathe through a burn over and a tight enough seal to keep everything else out – all while remembering this sobering fact, “It’s better inside that shelter, than it is outside.”