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Wildfire Project

With California as the backdrop, representing one of the most high-risk regions in the world,

The Wildfire Project, funded by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in 2014, seeks to improve our understanding of the exposure risks, evaluating tools for assessing and predicting hazards, and recommending safeguards for improving health and safety of firefighters and others involved in a wildfire incident.

The term 'wildland fire' has become a misnomer in the United States. Large wildfires frequently threaten homes, businesses and lives, shifting the focus to structure defense. Further exacerbating the situation, a new paradigm is emerging: we are witnessing a dramatic shift in the frequency and intensity of wildfires due to a variety of factors, most of which are human-caused.

As our population grows, decisions on developing and managing the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) will determine our vulnerability and the risks imposed on our firefighters. A WUI incident represents a dynamic, complex environment where wildland, structure, and vehicle fires merge; we do not clearly understand of the risks this synthesis creates. Moreover, protection standards for firefighters are specific to each incident type.


The project is conducted in cooperation with CAL FIRE and California Department of Forestry, representing over six thousand firefighters state- wide. However, the target audience is much broader - the deliverables from this project will support decision making, situational awareness, and firefighter health/safety for personnel throughout the United States that respond to wildland/WUI fire incidents.

We have a demonstrated history of successful projects in the fire services, creating a synergy between scientists, firefighters, agencies, and medical professionals. Our team has worked on diverse fire projects for decades, representing some of the foremost experts in the field.

Our team includes key personnel from National Institute for Standards in Technology (NIST) and the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF).


Dr. Matt E. Rahn, PhD, JD

Cal State San Marcos
CSUSM Corporation
435 Carmel St.
San Marcos, CA 92078