This image was created in August, 2014, by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Health Scientist, Aaron Sussell, Ph.D., M.P.H., and depicts National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Health Communication Specialist, Elizabeth Dalsey, from the Western States Offices, as she was interviewing members of a CALFire crew of young Hispanic firefighters, while at the French Fire, in the Sierra National Forest, in Madera Country, California. With climate change, U.S. wildland fire seasons are becoming longer and hotter, creating additional health and safety challenges for local, state, and federal agencies that employ wildland firefighters. In 2014, NIOSH began collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service on research to improve prevention for wildland firefighters. This was one of the entries in the 2015 CDC Connects, Public Health in Action Photo Contest.
Every year, hundreds of thousands of acres of land burn across the United States and wildland fire fighters (WFFs) are asked to protect our lives, our homes and our forests. But fires are unpredictable and dangerous. Between 2000-2013, almost 300 on-duty WFF fatalities occurred. Common hazards faced on the fire line can include burnovers/entrapments, heat-related illnesses and injuries, smoke inhalation, vehicle-related injuries (including aircraft), slips, trips, and falls and others. In addition, due to prolonged intense physical exertion, WFFs are at risk for heat related illness and rhabdomyolysis.
NIOSH offers resources for fire departments, fire fighters, and partner organizations to prevent on-duty injuries, illnesses and deaths from hazards and exposures associated with fighting wildfires.
CDC and NIOSH also provide resources for responders in conducting rescue and clean-up activities.