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 fire and EMS

This information is compiled daily (Monday-Friday) by USFA to provide a snapshot of significant national events potentially impacting the fire and emergency services. A weekly Influenza Surveillance Report is also included during flu season.

Subscribe to receive the briefing through email

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.


an incident and firefighters huddle at a fire scene

New LODD online course for incident commanders

The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation has a new online training course to help prepare incident commanders for the unique challenges that occur in the aftermath of a firefighter line-of-duty death.

Read the article

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.

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

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.

Download report 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
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.

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.

EMS outreach
EMS social outreach card
Share images like this on your department's social media accounts to remind community residents to prepare for a medical emergency.
Explore social cards

Current events and issues

paramedics treating a patient

Training helps EMS workers identify human trafficking signs

Learn about the key components of a human trafficking training and awareness program for EMS workers.

Read the article

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.

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

Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) toolkit

This collection of recommended resources will help your fire department prepare for, and respond to, WUI fires. Included are outreach materials, training courses, assessment tools, and links to the latest WUI research studies.

Explore toolkit resources

More fire department operations, management and safety resources

Recommended free webinar (previously recorded)

Stressful Conditions and Crowd Behavior: How Properly Trained Crowd Managers Can Be Life Savers

This presentation explores the differences between how people respond to stimulus as individuals versus how they respond when in a crowd. Here’s what you will learn:

  • The psychological theories relating to crowd behavior.
  • Methodologies to mitigate crowd behaviors that might result in injuries or fatalities.
  • Code requirements for trained crowd managers in both NFPA and ICC fire codes.
  • How to assess crowd manager training programs for validity, accuracy and appropriateness.