The Environment

The impact of fire on the natural environment is significant, yet has not been on the radar screen of many people. However, this topic is gaining new attention with global concerns associated with the impact on climate change resulting from carbon emissions: a by-product of most fires. In addition to carbon emissions, impacts can include non-carbon contamination of the air via the fire plume, contamination of soil and water from the deposition of products of combustion in the fire plume, contamination from firefighting water runoff containing toxic products, and other such environmental discharges or releases resulting from burned materials or otherwise released as a result of fire. With support from the Fire Protection Research Foundation (FPRF), a review of existing research on the environmental impacts of fire was conducted. This effort considered sources of contamination and associated effects, approaches to quantifying the impacts in terms of hazards, risks and cost, and gaps in knowledge that are needed in order to make better assessments of the environmental impact of fire. A conceptual framework for undertaking more comprehensive impact assessments, once the needed data and information are available, was developed.

The Environment Impact of Fire