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Risk Management & Firefighter Safety and Health

We expose employees, volunteers and contractors to a wide variety of environments to accomplish the mission of the USDA Forest Service.  These risks range from secure office settings to extremes of weather, terrain, fires, and floods; the list is unending.  Fortunately, most of the risk our employees face is manageable through deliberate, collaborative and thoughtful risk management.

There is risk in everything we do. Risks taken to do our jobs are evaluated individually and collectively multiples times every day. Some actions we take to control risk require very little thought and are based on habit and collective knowledge.

Even high-risk endeavors may be undertaken when decision-makers clearly acknowledge the sum of the benefits exceeds the sum of the costs. Balancing costs and benefits may be a subjective process open to interpretation. Ultimately, the appropriate decision authority may have to determine the balance, therefore, personnel with knowledge and experience of the project/fire operation must be involved in risk decisions.

Risk is not the same at every level of any organization. Operational Risk Management recognizes four levels of Risk: Enterprise, Strategic, Operational, and Real-Time.

What is risk management?

The deliberate action taken by an organization or individuals to manage risk.

Natural resource and land management work activities are conducted in a wide variety of environmental situations. Every type of terrain, small to large size equipment use, and both indoor and outdoor projects and tasks are common.

All of these situations provide some degree of risk to employees and partners. Achieving the Forest Service's mission and objectives involves facing risks but not at the cost of undesirable and unacceptable consequences to employees, equipment, or the environment.

Taking calculated risks in certain situations is part of a dynamic of preserving core values while stimulating progress in strategies and practices and allows adaptation to changing situations.

U.S. Forest Service Risk Management Council

Forest Service Fire Operations Risk Management Council serves to facilitate and promote wildland firefighter safety. The council encompasses an unparalleled spectrum of skilled professionals sharing knowledge, ideas, expertise, and technology.

The mission of the Risk Management Council (RMC) is to promote a comprehensive, proactive, and recognizable program that significantly advances the effective use of sound risk management practices by Forest Service employees and organizations of Forest Service employees. 

NEW Risk Management Learning Curriculum (coming soon)

This training contains information and resources required to train and implement Operational Risk Management (ORM) processes throughout the range of missions supported by the Forest Service.




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