Increasingly, dangerous urban interface fires are raging across the United States and Canada, becoming catastrophic with enormous loss of property and significant risk to human life. Consequently, IAFF members are faced with a variety of extraordinary challenges that will only worsen if not addressed.

The IAFF is making sure our members are equipped and trained to safely and effectively respond to the challenges of wildland and urban interface fires.

The International is providing resources and programs to help members who are responding to the threat to the urban interface, borderlands and areas within woodlands and urban areas, including:

    • Guidance and subject matter expertise on urban interface fire problems
    • Technical and real-world experience to advance legislative and administrative actions that protect our members’ health and safety
    • Assistance and analysis of IAFF-sponsored fire research
    • Expertise to meet training needs of IAFF members
    • Advocacy for increased federal funding for fire suppression and response

Protecting communities from wildfires is no longer a job limited to certain regions in the United States and Canada. As the line separating urban, suburban, and rural communities has blurred, wildfires are a threat spanning coast to coast.

The wildland urban interface — the zone of transition between unoccupied land and human development — is growing at an astronomical rate, causing enormous loss of property and significant risk to human lives. According to the National Fire Protection Association, 88 percent of fire departments respond to urban interface fires, but only 40 percent of these departments provide urban interface fire training. Even when training exists, it is often inconsistent and inadequate for the level of response needed.

The IAFF is committed to providing effective, consistent training for structural fire fighters who are now responding to urban interface fires.

For more information about the IAFF’s Responding to the Interface (RTI) program, contact the IAFF Health and Safety Operational Services Department at [email protected].

Shareable Brochure

Courses Available

    • Responding to the Interface Awareness – ONLINE
      This free, 10-hour, online training program is designed to provide fire fighters and company officers a basic understanding of safety, command and control, and strategy and tactics to use when defending structures from wildfires. Go to to register for this course.
    • Responding to the Interface Train the Trainer
      The Train the Trainer program is a four-day (32-hour), grant-eligible class designed to train fire department instructors on how to deliver consistent, effective wildfire response training. At the conclusion, fire fighters and company officers will have the ability to teach their fellow colleagues.

The program includes:

        • Classroom review of online material and final exam
        • Program overview and teaching-skills methodology
        • Field training to practice and apply skills learned in the classroom portion of the course. The training is guided by subject-matter experts and delivered in the local jurisdiction.


      • IAFF’s Responding to the Interface Awareness online course
      • FEMA’s S-190 Introduction to Wildland Fire Behavior


      • FEMA’s S-130 Fire Fighter Training

For more information on grant funding for this course, visit

Current research on wildland and urban interface fires provides resources and data that can help fire fighters respond to these events, including:

  • Effectiveness of building codes in the wildland​ urban interface.
  • Education of homeowners and the public on defensible open spaces and fuels management.
  • Unifying and improving effectiveness (agency co-operation and coordination).
  • Initial response staffing effectiveness and the value of funding appropriately.
  • Effectiveness of firefighting tactics, PPE, physiological impact of wildland firefighting on fire fighters.

Risk Perceptions, Management Regimes, and Wildfire Mitigation Behavior in Wildland-Urban Interface Zones: A Cross-Case Analysis (2014)
Using data from interviews with fire managers, focus groups with residents, as well as fire mitigation planning documents, this research investigates the connections between information, local management regimes, and homeowner decisions regarding property mitigation in the face of wildfire risk.

Wildland Firefighter Health and Safety Report (2014)
This report, the 14th in a series, reviews activities related to MTDC’s project on wildland firefighter health and safety. The focus has been on work, rest, and fatigue; energy and nutrition; and fitness and work capacity. The focus now includes the psychosocial dimensions of human factors, such as conditions and circumstances that enhance or interfere with performance and health.​

Smoke Exposure and Firefighter Risk in the Wildland Urban Interface (2013)
Collaborators with California State University San Marcos and the University Auxiliary Research Services Corporation worked in partnership with the United States Department of Agriculture-Forest Service, CAL FIRE, CAL FIRE Local 2881, the International Association of Fire Fighters, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology to evaluate the physiological and working conditions of wildland firefighters and smoke exposure in the wildland urban interface (WUI). Funding for this work was provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Fire Prevention and Safety Program (FPS).

USDA Wildland Firefighter Smoke Exposure Study (2013)
This report discusses the preliminary findings from a 4-year assessment of exposure to smoke and respirable dust from wildland and prescribed fires and includes a discussion of the health and safety concerns associated with smoke inhalation.

Understanding and Improving Wildland Firefighter Health and Safety: Environmental Stress and Exposure – FEMA Development Proposal (2012)
A proposal for assistance from FEMA to conduct a comprehensive assessment of wildland firefighters. The purpose is to understand the relationship between diverse factors including carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, hazardous air pollutants, particulates, core body temperature, heat exposure, heart rate, respiration rate, and dehydration.

Initial Attack Effectiveness: Wildfire Staffing Study (2010)
This study concludes that by increasing the number of personnel on an individual hose lay, the efficiency, effectiveness and overall ability to potentially control a wildland fire are significantly increased, thus enhancing emergency response and increasing the ability to protect California from modern wildfires.

The IAFF is working with the many wildland/urban interface advocacy groups across the United States and Canada that speak and act for fire fighters to provide guidance on training, education, staffing and health and safety issues that affect our members’ working environment.

For more information, contact [email protected]

International Association of Fire Fighters
Attn: Health and Safety
1750 New York Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20006