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  4. DHS Prepares and Equips Communities to Address Increased Risk of Fires

DHS Prepares and Equips Communities to Address Increased Risk of Fires

Release Date: October 13, 2023

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), supports and strengthens fire and emergency medical services to prepare for, prevent, mitigate, and respond to hazards. Recent events highlight the growing importance of fire prevention and response efforts in securing our homeland, and DHS is actively helping to equip communities and America’s 27,182 registered fire departments for this challenge.

DHS has taken steps to:

Prepare Communities

  • Created first-of-its-kind extreme temperatures resource guide to help state, local, tribal, and territorial officials prepare for and prevent fire related death and injury.
  • Hosted the inaugural Extreme Temperatures Summit in August 2023 to provide communities with best practices and mitigation strategies against extreme heat risks, including fires. The summit was the result of outreach conducted by FEMA to educate stakeholders on accessing DHS resources for extreme heat remediations.
  • Shared resources through FEMA’s Ready.gov campaign to inform the public on how to prevent, prepare, and respond before, during, and after a fire. The USFA also developed preparation materials through their The Fire is Everyone’s Fight nationwide campaign.

Support Firefighters and Fire Responders

  • In Fiscal Year 2022, as of September 2023, FEMA awarded nearly $700 Million in Assistance to Firefighters Grants for fire departments to hire, maintain, equip, and train their personnel. 
  • With the increased fire risk potential of lithium-ion batteries, USFA developed free awareness materials for the public to use centered around this issue.
  • Worked with over 50 fire agencies on fire service capability needs and utilized their expertise to test and evaluate new technologies and equipment in real-world scenarios. The DHS Science and Technology (S&T) First Responder Capabilities Program aids and develops innovative solutions to the challenges firefighters face through improved technology, personal protective equipment, and public safety communications. Their collaboration helps ensure firefighters have access to cutting-edge technology and knowledge to perform their duties safety and efficiently.
  • Launched the Wildland Firefighter Advanced Personal Protection System to improve radiant thermal protection and reduce heat stress and improve garment form, fit, and function for first responders, ensuring they have the equipment needed for mission success.

Invest in Technology and Research

  • Ongoing collaboration with federal partners by USFA to eliminate dangerous polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from firefighter personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Investing $2.3 Million toward a new interoperable fire information and data analytics platform, known as the National Emergency Response Information System (NERIS) awarded via the DHS S&T Long-Range Broad Agency Announcement.
  • Advancing novel research in Wildfire Sensors through DHS S&T. These sensors detect wildfire emissions including particulate matter and indicator gases to provide early detection of wildfire ignition, rather than traditional methods of identifying smoke and heat sources. More than 200 sensors have been deployed across the United States, Canada, Germany, and Peru with another 200 sensors to be deployed in high-risk areas across the states in early 2024.
  • Continued research and development on wildland firefighter respirator devices, which are powered air-purifying respirators designed to provide protection against both gas and particulate respiratory hazards, and withstand the extreme environmental conditions associated with wildland firefighting operations.
  • Enhanced data-driven decision making through new technology that integrates unattended flood and wildfire sensors with the Integrated Public Alert Warning System (IPAWS) Open Platform for Emergency Networks, providing tools for communities to update the ways they are notified of local emergencies.  


Last Updated: 10/16/2023
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