The Environmental Impact of Fire

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Download the executive summary. (PDF, 23 KB)

Fire Protection Research Foundation report: "The Environmental Impact of Fire" (PDF, 2 MB)
Author: Drew Martin, Mai Tomida, Brian Meacham, Ph.D., Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Date of issue: May 2015


Fires are adverse events with tangible costs for property and human life. Quantification of the immediate and direct costs of fire provide a metric for understanding the social and economic impact of fire and for assessing progress in fire prevention and protection. In addition to their most manifest physical costs, however, fires have a range of less immediate and obvious adverse consequences on the natural environment. These include air contamination from the fire plume (whose deposition is likely to subsequently include land and water contamination), contamination from water runoff containing toxic products, and other environmental discharges or releases from burned materials. The Fire Protection Research Foundation initiated this project to compile and review the existing literature on the environmental impact of fire and document the knowledge gaps for future work.