Fire department operations, management and safety

The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) sponsors research and conducts studies to support emergency responder health and safety and help fire departments prepare for and respond to fire, natural disasters, non-fire emergencies, and other threats and vulnerabilities.

Daily operational briefing for the fire and emergency services

This information is compiled daily (Monday-Friday) by USFA to provide a snapshot of significant national events potentially impacting the fire and emergency services. Also included is a weekly seasonal flu update.

Subscribe to receive the briefing through email Download the briefing PDF ≤ 1 MB

Critical infrastructure protection

USFA's Emergency Management and Response – Information Sharing and Analysis Center (EMR-ISAC) promotes critical infrastructure protection (CIP) by sharing CIP and emerging threat information with Emergency Services Sector (ESS) departments and agencies nationwide.

Learn more about what the EMR-ISAC can do for your ESS organization.

CIP InfoGram headlines for April 30
Firefighters Responding to Violent Incidents
U.S. Food and Drug Administration Releases Drug Shortage App
The Fire Service and Alcohol
Drought Impact on Infrastructure Systems

Download the April 30, 2015 InfoGram PDF 276 KB


Fire service operational safety

USFA sponsors research to create safer operational environments for firefighters by increasing awareness about building construction during fires, emergency incident rehabilitation, firefighting techniques and tactics, and more.

Explore these materials to help increase awareness about safer operational fireground environments.

See also: U.S. on-duty firefighter fatalities

photo of firefighter using a thermal imaging camera
National Safety Culture Change Initiative report
USFA worked with the International Association of Fire Chiefs to study fire and emergency service cultural aspects that contribute to occupational illnesses, injuries and fatalities. This report:

  • Provides a basic understanding of the fire and emergency service culture.
  • Identifies behaviors that positively and negatively impact health and safety.
  • Highlights focus areas for change.

National Safety Culture Change Initiative PDF 896 KB


Natural disasters and non-fire emergencies

The public relies on first responders during emergencies, and the more substantial the incident or the disaster, the greater the need for assistance delivered by the fire department and others with public safety missions.

Find out how your fire department can enhance its level of preparedness and response to non-fire emergencies and natural disasters.

Active shooter and mass casualty incidents
Active shooter and mass casualty incidents are complex and may be beyond the traditional training and experience of firefighters and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) providers. Use this guide to support fire and EMS planning and preparation for active shooter and mass casualty incidents.

Fire/EMS Department Operational Considerations and Guide for Active Shooter and Mass Casualty Incidents PDF 247 KB


Protective equipment and clothing

USFA partners with the National Institute of Standards and Technology on research projects to improve the protective qualities of clothing and equipment used by firefighters in operational situations.

Explore our latest research on protective clothing and equipment technology.

Thermal performance of SCBA facepiece lenses
Working with NIST, USFA sponsored a study to better understand the thermal degradation of Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) facepiece lenses, an issue identified as a contributing factor in certain firefighter casualties.

Thermal Performance of Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus Facepiece Lenses Exposed to Radiant Heat Flux PDF 2.6 MB


Vehicle and roadway safety

Approximately 25 percent of on-duty firefighter fatalities occur each year while responding to or returning from incidents, with the majority of fatalities resulting from vehicle crashes. Vehicle collision is the second leading cause of firefighter fatalities.

Read about best practices and recommendations for safer emergency vehicle and roadway incident response.

Emergency Vehicle Safety Initiative publication cover

Our latest study report, “Emergency Vehicle Safety Initiative (2014),” covers these topics:

  • Common crash causes and crash prevention.
  • The impact of vehicle design and maintenance on safety.
  • Internal and external factors for improving response-related safety.
  • Regulating emergency vehicle response and roadway scene safety.
  • Roadway incident scene safety.

Emergency Medical Services

USFA sponsors research and studies to help keep EMS personnel and their patients safe, and help prepare fire departments for special EMS operations.

Browse our resources on EMS responder safety, human trafficking, and guidelines and protocols for responding to all-hazards incidents.

Help victims of human trafficking
Fact: approximately one-third of human trafficking victims are treated by medical providers.
This collection of resources will help you learn about the crime and be prepared to help prevent human trafficking and treat victims.

Explore resources and share with first responders.


Firefighter health, wellness and fitness

If you are a firefighter looking for tips to improve your overall health and fitness, or a fire department leader developing or enhancing a wellness-fitness program, these resources can help.

Explore the latest research findings, best practices and recommendations for firefighter health, wellness and fitness.

Firefighter cancer study
We are working with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health on a research project to clarify the relationship between firefighter occupational exposures and cancer. Firefighters can be exposed to contaminants from fires that are known or suspected to cause cancer.
Learn more about our firefighter cancer study.

Volunteer fire service

Almost 70 percent of all U.S. firefighters are volunteers. USFA is working with the National Volunteer Fire Council to help keep volunteers healthy and safe, and to keep the volunteer fire service strong now and in the future.

Browse our volunteer health, safety, and retention and recruitment resources.

Volunteer retention and recruitment strategies
If your volunteer department is looking for ideas and proven successful practices in recruitment and retention, download this publication.

Retention and Recruitment for the Volunteer Emergency Services: Challenges and Solutions PDF 3.4 MB

More fire department operations, management and safety resources