Rural fire safety

Barn and farmland

Rural communities face unique fire risks. The distance between communities and between residents within those communities results in challenges related to fire. Fire death rates in rural areas are very high. Additionally, loss of property and livestock have an extreme emotional and economic impact on residents in the local area.


NFPA is hosting a fire and life safety symposium on May 12-13 in the Boston area to bring together representatives from rural fire departments across North America. The symposium will help NFPA assess fire and life safety education needs and gain a clear picture of rural fire department challenges related to prevention. Participants will help us better serve rural and volunteer fire departments in their public education, prevention, and Community Risk Reduction efforts.

Who should attend?
Symposium attendees will be members of rural fire departments within North America and should have an interest in fire and life safety education. We hope to bring together a dynamic group of representatives who span fire department roles, geographical regions, and experience in education and prevention. 

If you are interested in attending the symposium, please complete this online survey. Your input on this survey will help us invite the right mix of rural firefighters. The survey will be open through March 15, 2017. Invitations will be extended to selected participants by March 20, 2017. NFPA will cover expenses related to travel, lodging, and meals during the symposium.

For more information about the Rural Fire and Life Safety Symposium, contact Karen Berard-Reed at +1 617 984-7286.              

Common fire problems in rural areas
  • Heating is a common cause of residential structure fires and deaths.
  • Fixed heaters, including wood stoves, are involved in most rural residential heating fires.
  • Damaged electrical equipment is often the source of fire in barns and other farm buildings.
  • Many homes do not have working smoke alarms increasing risk of death in a fire.
Resources for rural fire safety

NFPA reports related to rural fire problems