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Civil unrest may occur as a period of social upheaval during heightened community tension or at mass gatherings such as sporting events, concerts and political conventions. The safety risk for fire and emergency medical services (EMS) personnel responding to these fluid incidents may be elevated.

The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Office of Emergency Medical Services worked together to compile these best practices to assist you with your response to civil unrest incidents in your community. Fire and EMS personnel should follow the general guidance in this section to prepare personnel, the station, apparatus and the community for emergency response in a challenging environment.

Arson During Civil Unrest

Review these actions for a safe response to potential arson-related fires during civil unrest incidents.

Featured resources


Mitigation of Occupational Violence to Firefighters and EMS Responders

This guide describes the causes of violence to firefighters and EMS responders. It explains risk factors and presents opportunities to reduce or prevent violence.

Download the guide

EFO Student Research

Preparing for Civil Unrest

This Executive Fire Officer (EFO) Program research project, authored by USFA staff member Dave Donohue, describes the current state of fire and EMS civil unrest preparedness activities. Practices, policies and procedures used to prepare for and respond to these incidents are identified.

Download the research paper

NFPA Responder Forum

Civil Unrest

Guidance to assist you with preparing standard operating procedures that establish a standardized approach to the safety of personnel at incidents that involve violence, unrest or civil disturbance.

Download the white paper