Firefighter Safety

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An escape route planning model based on wildfire prediction information and travel rate of firefighters

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Compared with other models, the escape routes planned by the final improved model not only effectively avoid wildfires, but also provide relatively short travel time and reliable safety.  This study ensures sufficient safety margins for firefighters escaping in wildfire environments. The escape route model described in this study offers a broader perspective on the study of escape route planning.

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Environmental health of wildland firefighters: a scoping review

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Wildland firefighters are likely to experience heightened risks to safety, health, and overall well-being as changing climates increase the frequency and intensity of exposure to natural hazards. Working at the intersection of natural resource management and emergency response, wildland firefighters have multidimensional careers that often incorporate elements from disparate fields to accomplish the tasks of suppressing and preventing wildfires. Thus, they have distinctly different job duties than other firefighters (e.g., structural firefighters) and experience environmental health risks that are unique to their work. We conducted a systematic scoping review of scientific literature that addresses wildland firefighter environmental health. Our goal was to identify studies that specifically addressed wildland firefighters (as opposed to firefighters in a broader sense), geographic and demographic trends, sample sizes, patterns in analysis, and common categories of research.

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Retention of highly qualified wildland firefighters in the western US

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Federal agencies responsible for wildland fire management face increasing needs for personnel as fire seasons lengthen and fire size continues to grow, yet federal agencies have struggled to recruit and retain firefighting
personnel. While many have speculated that long seasons, challenging working conditions, and low wages contribute to recruitment and retention challenges, there has been no empirical investigation of these claims. We
assemble a unique dataset on the federally funded Interagency Hotshot Crews in the Western United States, which are comprised of highly qualified firefighters, from 2012 to 2018 to analyze the factors that affect firefighter retention. Using a Cox proportional hazard model, we find that a higher workload, a proxy for higher earnings, and cumulative experience over the course of an employee’s career both have a significant positive impact on retention. The wage of alternative occupations had no significant effect on retention. Retention decreases over the study period.

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Occupational health exposures of wildland firefighters

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Topic: Firefighter Exposures and Efficacy of Interventions
Presenter: Paul White
Delve into the unique health exposures faced by firefighters and learn about the current state of research on the effectiveness of interventions to mitigate exposure. Paul White will share valuable insights into improving occupational safety and health outcomes for firefighters.

Firefighter

Occupational health exposures of wildland firefighters

Webinar recording.

Topic: Firefighter Exposures and Efficacy of Interventions
Presenter: Paul White
Delve into the unique health exposures faced by firefighters and learn about the current state of research on the effectiveness of interventions to mitigate exposure. Paul White will share valuable insights into improving occupational safety and health outcomes for firefighters.

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Mental health and resiliency of mission critical teams

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Topic: Resiliency and Residual in Mission Critical Roles

Join Preston Cline as he discusses the importance of protecting your mental health and building resilience when working in mission critical roles, especially during challenging situations like wildland fires.

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Science to support the social aspects of wildfire crisis work

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Land management-focused panel discussion hosted by the USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station.

Join us for a live virtual panel session with social scientists and communicators in a conversation about public perceptions and social acceptance associated with Wildfire Crisis planning and implementation. This facilitated panel discussion will be guided by your questions.

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Risk analysis and wildland firefighter safety in the western US

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While increased length and intensity of wildfire seasons in many places have led to more concern about wildland firefighter safety, we believe ethnography has been underutilized as a method within this domain. In response, we begin building a shared idiom for ethnographic engagement with wildland firefighter safety and similar occupations. We draw on ethnographic approaches to late industrialism to develop a method called discursive risk analysis (DRA) as an initial stage in a broader collaborative and generative research practice. By collaborative, we mean cooperation among stakeholder, disciplinary, professional, and other groups. We use DRA to analyze ethnographic data and documentary sources relevant to discussions of ‘the Big Lie’ among firefighters and agency leadership. The Big Lie is a term that both firefighters and agency leaders used to suggest that wildland firefighters are being harmed by agency discourse that says firefighters will be kept safe despite the unavoidable danger of the job. It is important to the Big Lie discussion that this harm is conceptualized by firefighters as discursively driven, necessitating a research method attentive to discourse. Discursive Risk Analysis of the Big Lie discussion suggests two discursive gaps that may result in two discursive risks. The first gap, found in agency discourse, is that ‘everyone knows the job is dangerous’ but ‘zero fatalities is a reasonable goal.’ This gap is associated with a discursive risk, a possible decrease in trust among wildland firefighters in agency leadership. The second gap, observed in firefighter discourse, is that ‘the job is dangerous’ but ‘no one will get hurt today.’ This gap is associated with another discursive risk, the possibility of decreased situational awareness. Finally, we clarify each of these gaps and risks through two anthropological concepts (the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis and the public secret) that can bring new perspectives to discussions about institutional cultures of health and safety.

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Consequential lightning-caused wildfires and the “let burn” narrative

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Initial strategies were driven by resource objectives for only six of the 32 wildfires; firefighter hazard mitigation was the primary driver of all others. No fire exhibited every characteristic of the Tamarack Fire. Analog fires accounted for a small percent (3.4%) of large (> 121 ha) USFS lightning-caused ignitions. These fires were responsible for 61.6% of structures destroyed and 25.8% of total personnel commitments of large lightning-caused USFS fires.

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Safe Separation Distance Evaluator: Is my safety zone big enough?

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Scientists developed a new tool to help wildland fire personel know if a safety zone is large enough to protect firefighters.

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