Year Published:

Cataloging Information

Human Dimensions of Fire Management
Human Factors of Firefighter Safety
Organizational Culture & Identity
Wildland Firefighter Health

Record updated: November 29, 2022
NRFSN number: 18857

In 2017, the NFFF began the process of conducting a wide-scale needs assessment to identify vulnerabilities, attitudes, and intervention opportunities related to wildland firefighter health and safety. A survey was broadly disseminated, and six regional listening sessions were held to provide stakeholders with the opportunity to explore questions, answers, and approaches to the problem of reducing wildland line-of-duty death (LODD) and injury. During these sessions – held in Phoenix, Denver, Portland, Boise, Sacramento, and Orlando – participants from every identifiable sector of wildland firefighting were able to make their voices heard. These included what we traditionally think of as wildland firefighters – representatives of national natural resource management organizations, state, county, and local forestry departments, and contract agencies, as well as members of volunteer, combination, and career structural departments with wildland fire responsibilities. One of the resounding themes heard at these sessions was the desire to work to end the perceived “worlds apart” between wildland and structural fire service personnel and agencies. Firefighters acknowledged the need to work and train collaboratively across organizations, and clearly want to build bridges and bring both worlds together. It was evident that from leadership down, there is a need to bridge the thinking which separates natural resource and structural fire service organizations. The increasing frequency of these two groups coming together to mitigate incidents makes a stronger collaboration critical to any efforts to reduce LODD and injury incidents. Another important finding was the need to better define and manage risk in the wildland. For structural firefighters, risk management is an important tool of the trade. Unfortunately, there is no common framework, strategic approach, nor operational language which defines a risk management strategy to fighting wildland fire. The US Forest Service has developed some ideas regarding risk management, but they are not yet broadly accepted across agencies. While various standards exist around risk management (ISO, NFPA, etc.) for structural firefighting, nothing has been developed to be uniformly applied in the wildland or WUI environments.

Executive Summary These and the other resulting strategic and tactical recommendations developed by the NFFF (on page 10 of this document) are a path forward in reducing wildland accident, injury, and death. To engage national leadership, the NFFF initially presented these findings to an April 2018 meeting of national leadership in Washington, D.C. Heads of national natural resource, wildland, and structural fire constituency organizations, federal agencies, and state and national level forestry leaders were in attendance, as well as undersecretaries from both USDA and DOI. There, attendees heard the results of the needs assessment and optimistically offered their input regarding next steps. This is clearly the beginning of a change that will take years, and the commitment and collaboration of everyone involved.


National Fallen Firefighters Association. 2018. Everyone goes home in the Wildland. September 2018. 12p.

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