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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.

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.


woman sitting on the floor with her head in her hands

Behavioral health resources for first responders

Help is available to deal with stress management, burnout, substance abuse, compassion fatigue and more.

Read the article

Arson and fire investigation

Resources and training opportunities for firefighters, first responders and fire investigators.

Explore arson and fire investigation resources, including National Fire Academy training opportunities.

fire engine in foreground, cars on fire in background

Arson during civil unrest

Review these critical actions that first responders must take to help ensure a safe response to arson fires during civil unrest incidents.

Review actions

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.

Emergency Services Ergonomics and Wellness handbook
Learn how to start ergonomics and wellness programs to help your department:

  • Reduce job injuries.
  • Increase productivity.
  • Extend careers.
  • Send personnel into healthy retirements.
  • NEW “Work Smarter” posters for the fire station.

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.

man throwing a Molotov cocktail with fire in the background

Civil unrest best practices

General guidance for fire and EMS to prepare personnel, the station, apparatus and the community for emergency response in a challenging environment.

Learn about best practices

National Incident Management System (NIMS)

NIMS guides all levels of government, nongovernmental organizations and the private sector to work together to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from incidents.

Find out which part of NIMS you need to type and manage your function, whether it's incident response or support.

NIMS Can Help
This series provides you with basic information about NIMS components, guides and tools.

Learn more about NIMS

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

Safety and health considerations for designing fire and EMS stations
If you are a fire department leader, architect or local government official, this guide will assist you in your efforts to design a safe, healthy and functional facility. Focus areas include:

  • Needs assessment.
  • Site selection.
  • Design process and construction components.
  • Safety and health considerations.
  • Code compliance.
  • Funding.
  • Key areas often overlooked.

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
This guide contains best practices and recommendations for safer emergency vehicle and roadway incident response. Topics covered include:

  • 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.

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.

Critical health and safety issues
This report identifies resources, provides references, suggests tools, illustrates best practices, and establishes goals and objectives for each issue to help departments improve firefighter safety, well-being and survival. Topics covered include:

  • Aging of the volunteer fire service
  • Declining number of volunteers
  • Funding
  • Rural operations
  • Time constraints

More fire department operations, management and safety resources