Skip to content

Firefighter Safety

Tool icon

Access site.

ALERTWildfire is a consortium of three universities — The University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), University of California San Diego (UCSD), and the University of Oregon (UO) — providing access to state-of-the-art Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) fire cameras and associated tools to help firefighters and first responders: (1) discover/locate/confirm fire ignition, (2) quickly scale fire resources up or down appropriately, (3) monitor fire behavior through containment, (4) during firestorms, help evacuations through enhanced situational awareness, and (5) ensure contained fires are monitored appropriately through their demise.

Webinar icon

Use of small unmanned aircraft on wildfire incidents

Webinar recording.

Unmanned Aircraft, commonly called “Drones,” are being used more and more for public safety, research, etc. Falling prices, rising capabilities, and a favorable regulatory framework are all fueling this growth. This webinar looks at actual, real-world, Wildfire missions where these aircraft are being used successfully, and diver into their advantages and limitations.

Open book with a bar chart on left page and line graph and lines simulating text on the right page

Wildland fire smoke health effects on wildland firefighters and the public

View report.

Using epidemiology studies to understand the exposure-response relationship for PM, this study found that firefighters were at an increased risk for long-term health effects from smoke exposure. The risk for lung cancer mortality increases nearly linearly with exposures over time and is more strongly influenced by exposure duration than are the risks of death from cardiovascular or ischemic heart disease. On the other hand, the risk of cardiovascular mortality rises steeply for doses in the range we estimated for firefighter exposures but flattens out at higher exposures to PM. The data presented in this paper clearly identify the crews and activities most likely to exceed occupational exposure limits and firefighters may have a an increased health risk from smoke exposures.

Computer monitor with triangular play button on the screen

US National Fire Danger Rating System: Past, present, and future

View webinar recording.

This seminar was presented by W. Matt Jolly and recorded by the USFS, RMRS, Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory.

Single sheet of paper with bullet points

Trans-boundary wildfire risk

View story map.

This study introduces a number of newer concepts and methods related to transboundary risk governance for the state of Arizona. The methods fill a gap in existing risk assessment efforts by explicitly identifying transboundary exposure. We show how the methods and results can be used to better define the scale of risk and design effective risk governance institutions. Improving scale recognition within existing transboundary risk governance systems can help reduce inefficiencies in risk planning.

Open book with lines simulating text on left and right pages

Comparing the US National Fire Danger Rating System (NFDRS) with recorded fire occurrence and final fire size

View study.

This study seeks to examine the relationships between a set of NFDRS fire danger indices (Fire Danger Ratings, Staffing Level and the Ignition Component) and measures of fire activity (fire occurrence and final fire size) across the entire conterminous US over an 8-year period. We reveal that different regions of the US display different levels of correspondence between each of the fire danger indices and recorded fire activity. Areas in the Southern and Eastern Geographic Area Coordination Centers (GACCs) exhibit weaker correlations than those in the Northwest, Northern Rockies, Great Basin and Northern California GACCs. Peaks in fire occurrence are shown to occur at mid–low values of fire danger whereas final fire sizes increase monotonically with each fire danger index. Our findings appear to align with perceived shifts in management practices currently employed across the US and indicate that the ability of the NFDRS to apportion the resources required to combat large fires is in general well developed.

Open book with lines simulating text on left and right pages

Wildfire smoke exposure and lower birth weights

View article.

This study indicates that wildfire smoke leads to a 4 to 6 percent reduction in birthweight, and these effects are most pronounced among mothers exposed to smoke during the second or the third trimesters of pregnancy. It also found that these effects attenuate (or diminish) with respect to distance to a wildfire, becoming ineffectual three miles and further from the burn source. In contrast, it found that even if infants had been close to a wildfire while in utero, there was no statistically significant effect on their birthweight if they were outside the smoke’s path.

Computer monitor with triangular play button on the screen

Federal fire managers’ perceptions of the importance, scarcity, and substitutability of suppression resources

View webinar recording.

In the United States, multi-jurisdictional fire suppression demand is met by a national-scale pool of suppression resources that come from a variety of jurisdictions and provide a wide range of skills, experience, and associated mobility limitations and logistical needs. We designed and implemented an online survey of U.S. Forest Service employees who hold direct or indirect responsibility for ordering suppression resources; our main research objective was to identify the field’s perceptions of resource importance, scarcity, and substitutability. Importantly, we asked questions to help distinguish between resources that are high value, scarce, and without substitutes versus ones that are low value, readily available, and highly substitutable. We hypothesized that resource ordering patterns change with elevated resource scarcity and that, because of this, true resource demand and frequent resource associations and substitutions are not reflected in dispatch summary reports. In this webinar, we will present an overview of our survey results, including future research and analysis plans. Additionally, we will relate the discussion back to firefighter risk, exposure, and risk transfer themes.

Crystal Stonesifer, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Human Dimensions, presents.

Open book with lines simulating text on left and right pages

A framework for developing safe and effective large-fire response in a new fire management paradigm

View article.

This study identifies a broader set of objectives, decisions and constraints to be integrated into the next generation operational research models. Including these changes would support evaluation of a suite of response options and the efficient resource packages necessary to achieve response objectives, aiding decision maker’s ability to minimize responder exposure while reducing the social, ecological and economic impacts of wildfires. Researchers follow with a proposed framework for expanding current large fire decision support systems, and conclude by briefly highlighting critical research needs and organizational changes necessary to create and implement these tools and overcome the negative consequences of positive feedbacks derived from historical and current wildfire management policies and strategies.

Open book with lines simulating text on left and right pages

Analysis of the effects of slope, vegetation density, and ground surface roughness on travel rates for wildland firefighter escape route mapping

View paper.

This study compared resultant travel rates to LiDAR-derived estimates of slope, vegetation density and ground surface roughness using linear mixed effects modelling to quantify the relationships between these landscape conditions and travel rates. The best-fit model revealed significant negative relationships between travel rates and each of the three landscape conditions, suggesting that, in order of decreasing magnitude, as density, slope and roughness increase, travel rates decrease. Model coefficients were used to map travel impedance within the study area using LiDAR data, which enabled mapping the most efficient routes from fire crew locations to safety zones and provided an estimate of travel time.

Narrow your search

Stay Connected