• WildfiresEvaluating Wildfire Hazard

    Severe wildfire disasters are often the product of numerous factors coalescing — vegetation, drought, a lack of firefighting resources, and many others. Identifying which factors are the most important is not always a simple task for local leaders assessing their community’s risk for damaging wildfires.

  • WildfiresPast Fires May Help in Predicting, Reducing Severity of Future Wildfires in Western U.S.

    Researchers analyzed 106 fires that burned in the Klamath Mountains in northwestern California and southwestern Oregon between 2002 and 2018, and concluded that previous fires may hold the key to predicting and reducing the severity of future wildfires in the western United States.

  • Cyanide detectionKeeping First Responders Safe by Detecting Cyanide Poisoning after Fires

    When first responders rush to a burning building to subdue the fire and save lives, it is not just the flames that are dangerous and potentially lethal, but also toxic fumes like cyanide that are released when certain materials are incinerated. These fumes, mixed with smoke, are so toxic that even in very low quantities may pose more risk than the fire itself. Chemists at DHS S&T have invented a test to indicate possible toxic cyanide exposure at the fire scene.

  • WildfiresDOD Imagery Information Aids Wildland Firefighters

    With continuing significant fire activity in the western United States this year, the Department of Defense (DoD) is delivering requested personnel, equipment, and facilities, to assist our Federal, State, and local partners fighting wildland fires. One of the tools provided by the DoD is the Firefly system pilot program (Firefly), a capability from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). 

  • WildfiresEmberometer Gauges Threat of Wildfire-Spreading Embers

    Wildfire fronts spread not only on the ground, but also from above, as the fire launching volleys of glowing embers, also known as firebrands, into the air. These specks of burning debris can glide for up to about 24 miles before landing. They cause up to 90 percent of home and business fires during wildfires.

  • First respondersSensor Detects When Firefighters' Protective Clothing No Longer Safe

    Firefighters risk their lives battling blazes, and aging protective gear can put them at even greater risk. Textiles scientist works with industry to develop a faster, easier way to detect damage from heat, moisture and UV light.

  • WildfiresFor Forest Towns, 3 Wildfire Lessons as Dixie Fire Destroys Historic Greenville, California

    By Bart Johnson and David Hulse

    How can people prepare for a future that’s unlike anything their communities have ever experienced? The emergence of extreme fires in recent years and the resulting devastation shows that communities need better means to anticipate mounting dangers, and underscores how settlement patterns, land management and lifestyles will have to change to prevent even larger catastrophes. Our research team of landscape architects, ecologists, social scientists and computer scientists has been exploring and testing strategies to help.

  • WildfiresFour Explanations for Why Europe Is Burning

    By Stuart Braun

    Barely halfway through summer, the area burned by wildfires raging through the Balkans, Italy, and the southeastern Mediterranean has already eclipsed yearly averages.

  • WildfiresDHS S&T Selects Two Industry Partners for Second Phase Wildland Fire Sensor Research

    DHS S&T selected two industry partners for the second phase of research on wildland fire sensor. The first phase research was conducted in June 2021, and the next phase of the program will focus on hardening the sensors for longer-term field deployments.

  • WildfiresHow Years of Fighting Every Wildfire Helped Fuel the Western Megafires of Today

    By Susan J. Prichard, Keala Hagmann, and Paul Hessburg

    Why are wildfires getting worse? Climate change is a big part of it. But, ironically, a chronic lack of fire in Western landscapes also contributes to increased fire severity and vulnerability to wildfires. It allows dry brush and live and dead trees to build up, and with more people living in wildland areas to spark blazes, pressure to fight every forest fire has increased the risk of extreme fire.

  • FirefightersFire Season Heats Up, and Burnout Looms

    By Grace Hindmarch, Aaron Clark-Ginsberg, and Jay Balagna

    To the dangerous conditions such as scorching temperatures, drought across 90 percent of the West, and intense wildfire, we must now add another: a looming crisis of burnout among wildland firefighters.

  • FirefightersProtecting Lives on the Wildland Fire Line

    Unlike first responders who fight structural fires, wildland firefighters are unable to use the current standard respirator systems, which are heavy, limited to 45 minutes of air and are too bulky. Since the current standard equipment for respiratory protection is a bandanna, DHS S&T and partners designed the Wildfire Respirator around a lightweight mask covering just the mouth and nose, relying on filtration rather than on heavy tanks of compressed air.

  • WildfiresMassive California Blaze Triggers Lightning Fears

    Smoke columns from fires in California could spawn lightning storms that cause more blazes, experts warn. Several communities have been evacuated. Fires in California have already destroyed three times more vegetation this year than they had at this time last year, which was the worst in the state’s history.

  • WildfiresWe Can’t Predict the Next Wildfire Disaster – but We Can Plan for It

    By Jen Beverly

    When it comes to wildfire threats to communities, we are navigating uncharted waters. Under extreme conditions, we cannot stop a spreading wildfire. When they occur, the only option is to contain it or evacuate. So start planning your route now.

  • WildfiresCan the Destructive Bootleg Fire Teach Us to Prevent Wildfires Before They Start?

    By Molly Callahan

    More and more, people are moving to less populous, woodland regions of the country, a phenomenon that puts more people in the path of potential wildfires and requires critical utilities such as power and water to be transported long distances from their origins. This creates a system of infrastructure that’s vulnerable to major disruptions—which is exactly what happened in the Bootleg fire.