CDC logoSafer Healthier People CDC HomeCDC SearchCDC Health Topics A-Z
NIOSH - National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

NIOSH Safety and Health Topic:

Fighting Wildfires

The present efforts to fight and control the devastating Florida wildfires again highlight the heroic role of fire fighters in protecting lives and property. NIOSH offers resources for fire departments, fire fighters, and partner organizations to prevent injury, illness, and death in the line of duty from hazards associated with fighting wildfires. These hazards can include burns, heat stress, smoke inhalation, risk of injury from operations involving rough terrain and unstable structures, and other dangers. NIOSH also provides resources for responders in rescue and clean-up activities.

Key Resources

Worker Safety During Fire Cleanup
CDC Fact Sheet details types of hazards that workers may face during fire clean up efforts, including electrical hazards, carbon monoxide poisoning, musculoskeletal hazards, heat stress, hazardous materials, & confined spaces.

Fact Sheet: What You Should Know In Deciding Whether to Buy Escape Hoods, Gas Masks, or Other Respirators for Preparedness at Home and Work
Provides information on what respirators are, how they work, and what is needed for a respirator to provide adequate protection.

Working in Hot Environments
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 86-112 (April 1986)
Reprinted 1992, with Minor Changes
En Español
This publication discusses the safety and health consequences of heat stress.

Hazard ID: Fire Fighters Exposed to Electrical Hazards During Wildland Fire Operations
En Español
NIOSH investigated two separate incidents in 1999 in which fire fighters died or were seriously injured from exposures to electricity while fighting wildland fires.

Related NIOSH Topic Pages

Heat Stress



Emergency Response Resources:

Electrical Safety

Health Hazard Evaluations

NIOSH conducts Health Hazard Evaluations (HHEs) to find out whether there are health hazards to employees caused by exposures or conditions in the workplace.

Some recent HHE reports related to firefighting have been listed below. For a comprehensive listing of HHE reports please search the HHE Database.

Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Reports

The NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program conducts investigations of fire fighter line-of-duty deaths to formulate recommendations for preventing future deaths and injuries.

Selected FACE Reports on Fighting Wildfires:

Search All FACE Reports related to Fighting Wildfires with NIOSHTIC-2
NIOSHTIC-2 is a searchable bibliographic database of occupational safety and health publications, documents, grant reports, and journal articles supported in whole or in part by NIOSH.

Other NIOSH Publications

Hazard ID: Traffic Hazards to Fire Fighters While Working Along Roadways
En Español
The number of fire fighters struck and killed by motor vehicles has dramatically increased within recent years. This document details case studies and provides recommendations for prevention.

Other Resources

Fire Safety - CDC Emergency Preparedness and Response Web Site

National Interagency Fire Center
External Link:

Forest Service Fire and Aviation Management Web site
External Link:
External Link:

Firewise Library
External Link:

Firefighter Safety in the Wildland/Urban Interface
External Link:

California Department of Health Services Web SIte:

State Health Director Offers Advice to Public on How to Protect Health During Wildfires

State Health Director Warns Of Smoke from Southern California Fires
External Link:


Page last updated: May 22, 2008
Page last reviewed: April 08, 2008
Content Source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

Fighting Wildfires

photo collage - airplane spraying wildland fire and scene of wildland fire

Adobe Acrobat:

The free Acrobat Reader is needed to open some of the files on this page.

Get Acrobat Reader