Fire service operational safety

For more information about these projects, please email Bill Troup.

The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) sponsors research to create safer operational environments for firefighters by increasing awareness about:

Risk Management Practices in the Fire Service January 2018

Improve department performance — Reduce risk

Risk Management Practices in the Fire Service contains recommended approaches to help your department manage organizational, operational and community risk. Throughout the manual, we address specific challenges involved in incorporating a “risk management approach” into the delivery of fire department services.

If you are a fire department leader, this guide will assist you in your efforts to improve organizational performance and to reduce the risks that your community, your department, and your members face virtually every day.

Focus areas include:

  • Defining risk
  • Organizational risk management
  • Operational risk management
  • Managing information
  • Community risk reduction
Risk Management Practices in the Fire Service report cover

Download the guide 2.6 MB

Project sponsors: International Fire Service Training Association at Oklahoma State University and the U.S. Fire Administration

Mitigation of Occupational Violence to Firefighters and EMS Responders June 2017

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

Firefighters and EMS responders are increasingly called upon to meet community demands for service. As a result, they are often expected to respond to incidents where they can be exposed to violence.

Focus areas include:

  • Characteristics of patients/perpetrators of violence.
  • Estimates of violence.
  • EMS responder risk factors.
  • Psychosocial impact.
  • Reporting/Under-reporting
  • Inventory of best practices and intervention opportunities.
Mitigation of Occupational Violence to Firefighters and EMS Responders cover

Download the report PDF 2.5 MB

Project sponsors: International Association of Fire Fighters, Drexel University, and the U.S. Fire Administration.

Voice radio communications

Voice Radio Communications Guide for the Fire Service June 2016 provides a basic understanding of radio communications technology, including hardware, policies and procedures, and human resource issues.

Focus areas include:

  • Digital and analog radio.
  • Conventional radio systems.
  • Direct communications.
  • System design and portable radio selection and use.
  • Interoperability.
  • Radio spectrum licensing and the Federal Communications Commission.
  • First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet).

Project sponsors: International Association of Fire Fighters and the U.S. Fire Administration, supported by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology First Responder Group Office for Interoperability and Compatibility.

Changing our safety culture

The report, National Safety Culture Change Initiative, highlights fire and emergency service cultural aspects that contribute to occupational illnesses, injuries and fatalities. Despite improvements in personal protective equipment, apparatus safety devices, training, emphasis on health and wellness, and decreases in the number of fires, the rate of on-duty firefighter death and injury has remained relatively unchanged in the past four decades.

Focus areas include:

  • Environmental factors
  • Health and wellness
  • Individual responsibility
  • Leadership
  • Recruiting
  • Seat belt usage
  • Situational awareness
  • Training
  • Vehicle operations

Project sponsors: International Association of Fire Chiefs> and the U.S. Fire Administration

Emergency incident rehabilitation

When operating at an incident scene, it is critical that the physical and mental well-being of firefighters and other responders doesn’t deteriorate to the point where it affects safety. Emergency incident rehabilitation can prevent serious and life-threatening conditions – such as heat stroke and heart attacks – from occurring. It includes monitoring of vital signs, rehydration, nourishment and rest for responders between assignments.

Download our manual PDF 5.6 MB to learn more about the important topics related to emergency incident rehabilitation, including:

  • Human physiology.
  • Operational issues.
  • Protective clothing.
  • Technology.
  • Tactical procedures.
  • Weather issues.

Health and safety projects underway

Station design, ergonomics

We’re working in partnership with the International Fire Service Training Association (IFSTA) on projects to provide guidance on fire/Emergency Medical Services station design and help fire departments implement an ergonomics program. Look for these resources in late 2017.

Health and safety of female firefighters

To support the estimated 50,000 U.S. women employed and volunteering as firefighters, we’re working with the International Association of Women in Fire (IWomen) to study the unique health and safety issues of the female firefighter. The published study results will provide information on programs and strategies to enhance health and safety and reduce on-duty fatalities.

More information on fire service operational safety