Lookouts are a key element of LACES. The main role of a lookout is to manage and maintain safety by observing and monitoring the fire and personnel.
Consider deploying two different types of lookouts at wildfire incidents:
- Team lookouts (safety officers)
- Tactical lookouts (sector safety officers)
The generic responsibilities of crew/team and tactical lookouts align with the generic responsibilities of a safety officer, as outlined in The foundation for incident command and National Operational Guidance: Incident command. Lookouts, like safety officers, should not be tasked with managing crews or teams and should not be involved in delivering tasks that have been assigned to crews or teams.
Although the responsibilities of lookouts closely align to those identified for safety officers, the term 'lookout' has been retained and adopted in this guidance in order to align the terminology with the internationally recognised and accepted LACES acronym. There are also additional specific responsibilities that should be assigned to team and tactical lookouts at wildfire incidents, as explained later in this section.
Depending on the circumstances of the incident, multiple team and tactical lookouts may be needed to adequately maintain safety. For large and/or more complex wildfire incidents, the incident commander should consider appointing a safety sector commander to co-ordinate the role of all lookouts and/or safety officers. The responsibilities of the safety sector commander are outlined in the 'Safety briefings' control measure in The foundation for incident command.
All lookouts must be trained to understand the full range of hazards that exist in the wildfire environment, which includes a good understanding of fire behaviour at wildfires (refer to hazard 'Fire behaviour' for further information). All lookouts must also be trained in how to use and implement LACES at wildfire incidents. In addition, tactical lookouts must receive more advanced training in these key areas compared to team lookouts.