Federal Wildland Firefighter Health and Wellbeing Program

The Interior and Agriculture departments are committed to taking care of our wildland firefighters, who work in arduous, stressful environments. We recognize the impact this vitally important work can have on their health and wellbeing. The Interior Department and USDA Forest Service are developing a comprehensive Federal Wildland Firefighter Health and Wellbeing Program to provide support tailored to the unique experiences and needs of our firefighters.

This initiative represents one of many efforts at the Interior Department to implement the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law's support of wildland fire management.

Logos for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service and U.S. Department of Agriculture

The Federal Wildland Firefighter Health and Wellbeing Program will increase our understanding of the short- and long-term effects of working in wildland fire on mental and physical health and enable the departments to better address these health risks. The program is taking a holistic approach to the needs of our workforce with a focus on three key areas: behavioral health, environmental and occupational health, and physical health and readiness.

Behavioral Health

Behavioral health includes not only mental health but also behaviors that affect a person’s overall wellbeing and ability to function well at work and in their personal life. Behaviors such as substance use and isolation can affect overall health.  

The behavioral health program will offer expanded prevention, education, and other services to augment support to wildland firefighters year-round. These resources are aimed at addressing trauma and cumulative stress, building coping skills, bolstering resiliency, improving mental preparedness, and addressing the importance of self-care.

Environmental and Occupational Health

The departments will work to understand how exposure to hazards in the workplace affects the health of wildland fire personnel. In the wildland fire environment, this includes occupational hazards such as exposure to smoke, dust, and ash; injury from falling debris; noise exposure; and injuries from strenuous exertion.

The program will focus on understanding and preventing exposures and hazards in the wildland fire environment that have the potential to affect short- and long-term health.

Physical Health and Readiness

Maintaining good physical health ensures that wildland firefighters are physically prepared for the fire year so they can perform their jobs safely. This includes physical fitness, endurance, medical qualifications, proper nutrition, training, and immune function.

This aspect of the program will address physical fitness and nutritional needs through training, studying fatigue management, and exploring how to balance physical and mental health so firefighters can meet the demands of their jobs.

Webinar Series

The Interior and Agriculture departments are holding a series of webinars this year to provide wildland fire personnel with resources and tips to improve their health and wellbeing before, during, and after wildland fire assignments. 

Before the wildfire year kicks into high gear, we invite you to join us for “Showing Up at Your Best: Preparing and Transitioning into the Fire Season” on May 16 at noon eastern. Wildland fire personnel with the Interior and Agriculture departments are invited to attend on Zoom.

Additional sessions will be announced soon.

Program Updates