Rural Firefighters Delivering Agricultural Safety and Health (RF-DASH)

Project Description

Dates: 2016 – 2022

The overall goal of this project is to improve the farmers’ access to capable health and safety consultation. The Rural Firefighters Delivering Agricultural Safety and Health (RFDASH) project provides farm safety tools and knowledge to rural firefighters through community colleges, emergency responder training events, and individual training officers. Fire departments, community colleges, and insurance companies in Wisconsin, Minnesota, New York, Massachusetts, Illinois, Vermont, and Ohio are currently participating.

Accomplishments so far include

  • RFDASH has been highlighted in a four-part series of Progressive Dairyman articles with a national audience.
  • Over 70 firefighters/EMS have been trained as trainers in the program including those from Wisconsin, Minnesota, New York, and Massachusetts.
  • New trainers have started to train others and make their own presentations. This includes over 20 new participants in Wisconsin, Vermont, and Ohio.


  • RFdash.org is the project’s standalone website sharing RF-DASH news, resources, events, and online community.
  • SaferFarm.org is a hazard analysis tool of farm elements that pose a risk for injury.
  • NFMCFarmMapper.com is a tool to preplan farms to expedite response, limit damage in the event of a fire, and keep first responders safe when responding to a farm emergency.

These tools are validated and safe; information is encrypted and privacy-protected.

**We recommend fire departments using these tools make one account for the entire department so all the firefighters/EMS in the department may access the analysis and map for a particular farm.

What can FarmMAPPER and SaferFarm.org can do for you?

This project is based upon results from the Spheres of Influence Project which found that farmers, agricultural bankers, and agricultural insurers believe that firefighters can be influential and motivate farmers to make changes to improve the health and safety on their farms. The project team believes that rural firefighters and first responders are highly esteemed people in rural and agricultural communities. With these new tools and knowledge, they can be influential on farmers’ health and safety decisions in their communities. We believe this will reduce farm hazards and improve farm safety.

We will explore the feasibility and efficacy of equipping rural emergency responders with farm-specific first aid curriculum, safety consultation capabilities, and farm hazard mapping strategies to assist in emergency responses to farms. We will also provide rural fire departments with digital tools to help train and guide them in the conduct of farm safety consultations. We will also enlist local academic institutions and insurance companies in the development and support of programs to sustain this cross trained workforce.

2019 Project Update

Year 3 of the RF-DASH project the team supported our existing trainers and expanded their networks of influence. We tracked data on power of their role in the community through a social network analysis tool and semi-structured interview instrument. We also assessed the feasibility of a national, multi-region program through a national training pilot.

Social Network Analysis:

With 36 trainers, we have conducted social network analysis interviews with 19 trainers. We have initiated second round interviews and have begun incentivizing individuals to discuss the work they have done with RF-DASH. We are currently analyzing and evaluating the data already collected and will continue to conduct more interviews approximately every six months to see how information about the RF-DASH program moves through their social networks.

National Training Pilot:

We reached out to three active National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) committee members to see if the project can become part of an existing standard for rural fire/EMS departments to follow or a new standard altogether. Receiving positive feedback, we decided to pursue a national training pilot to evaluate if the project was generalizable enough for other regions around the United States.

The national training encouraged partnerships between agriculture health and safety professionals, and rural fire/EMS. We invited 18 individuals from nine states (Idaho, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin) to Minneapolis, MN for two days of training and a round table discussion about ways to improve the project in a national program. We received positive feedback on the entire RF-DASH project. During the round table discussion, participants provided suggestions and new ideas to improve the overall use and appearance of the program through marketing, further curriculum refinement, and digital tools. We will be following up with the group in six months to learn what they took away from the program and implemented in their regions. The NFPA committee members informed us we are already following many of the standards, specifically the 1300 standard regarding community risk analysis and reduction. This may mean firefighters can be further incentivized to engage with the program to have their departments compliant with this standard.

Curriculum Refinement and Digitalization:

In continuing our goal to support existing trainers, RF-DASH team created resources to increase communication from the project staff, participant members, rural fire/EMS, and farmers. Development of the quarterly RF-DASH newsletter has allowed participants to become more engaged and up to date on the progress of the project. Many enrolled rural departments provided positive feedback on the effectiveness of this communication tool.



We created a brochure to give information on RF-DASH to farmers. This was in direct response to requests from fire/EMS personnel on additional resources to help inform farmers on project goals. In addition, we built a contact directory representing all of the individuals in the RF-DASH program. This public directory will allow the public to contact individuals in their regions about RF-DASH.

Improving Digital Tools:

We revised the item rating scale (1-5) in SaferFarm.org to stay consistent with best practices in hazard analyses. Now, five represents optimum protection against a hazard and one represents the least protection. The FARM-HAT scales were also revised and underwent general refinement, including incorporation of the ability to make future revisions as needed. We also updated SaferFarm.org to include a Forms Library to house the updated 154 FARM-HAT sheets.

Google Analytics was added to SaferFarm.org to provide the RF-DASH team with data on how users find and utilize the website.

Other Outcomes:

The RF-DASH project was featured in Canada’s Western Producer trade magazine discussing uses of the digital tools and how farmers can help firefighters prepare and respond to farm emergencies. Dairy Radio Now also conducted a short interview on the background and goals for the project.

Next Year:

The next year of RF-DASH will consist of supporting our existing trainers, observing how their networks expand, as well as continuing to build a national program. We will be continually working on improvements to online tools and curriculum. We plan to contact a marketing company with previous experience assisting NFMC to discuss ways to create a consistent and professional appearance for RF-DASH.

The overall goal of this project is to improve the farmers’ access to capable health and safety consultation by providing rural firefighters and emergency responders with farm safety knowledge and tools, thereby reducing farm hazards and improving farm safety.


Every quarter we will send out a newsletter welcoming newcomers and highlighting new and exciting information in our combined efforts of making agriculture safer.



The following specific aims will be achieved over a five-year period:


  • Modify existing curricula to instruct rural emergency responders to effectively disseminate agricultural health and safety knowledge. The proposed curricula will enable firefighters to:
    • Instruct farmers, farm families, and farm workers in Farm First Aid in order to raise injury awareness and disseminate prevention strategies.
    • Perform agricultural safety consultations for farmers with the assistance of the Farm/Agriculture/Rural Management – Hazard Analysis Tool (FARM-Hazard Analysis Tool) in order to increase the number of competent agricultural safety consultants.
    • Utilize Farm Mapping to Assist, Protect and Prepare Emergency Responders (Farm-MAPPER) in order to prevent injuries to firefighters during farm emergencies and expedite response times.
  • The research team will utilize social network analysis and anthropologic data to describe and efficiently navigate the existing network of agricultural health and safety experts, fire training institutions, firefighters, insurance companies, and farmers.
  • The research team will develop guidelines and technical assistance resources in order to promote sustainability, update curricula, and enable replication of the RFDASH model in new regions.

RF-DASH Program Highlight

Farm Mapping to Assist, Protect and Prepare Emergency Responders (Farm MAPPER)

Progressive Dairyman articles

The RF-DASH project was highlighted in a four-part series of Progressive Dairyman articles.  Click the links below to read the article tear sheets.

Project Resources

Project Personnel

Photo of Casper Bendixsen PhD

Casper Bendixsen, PhD

Associate Director of UMASH Director of the National Farm Medicine Center
Phone: 715-387-9410 Website: View Bio
Photo of Kathrine L. Barnes MS, MPH

Kathrine L. Barnes, MS, MPH

Research Specialist National Farm Medicine Center
Phone: 715-221-7150
Photo of Jakob Hanschu

Jakob Hanschu

Research Specialist National Farm Medicine CenterMarshfield Clinic Research Institute
Photo of Kyle Koshalek

Kyle Koshalek

Research Coordinator Associate National Farm Medicine Center
Phone: 715-389-3786

Publications and Presentations

  • Bendixsen, C. (2017, June 7). RFDASH curriculum round table discussion. Marshfield, WI, United States.
  • Bendixsen, C. (2018, Feb. 21-23). Rural firefighters delivering agricultural safety and health: An example in disseminating through technology. Agricultural Safety and Health Council of America (ASHCA), Scottsdale, AZ, United States.
  • Bendixsen, C. B., & Barnes, K. L. (2017, May 5). Rural firefighters delivering agricultural safety and health (RF-DASH). NORA Symposium, Minneapolis, MN, United States.
  • Bendixsen, C., & Barnes, K. (2018, Sept. 25-27). Innovative uses of technology in ag health and safety – the RF-DASH Project. Agricultural Safety and Health Council of America (ASCHA), Scottsdale, AZ, United States.
  • Bendixsen, C., Barnes, K., Murphy, D., Hill, D., & Keifer, M. (2017, June 25-28). Rural firefighters delivering agricultural health and safety. International Society for Agricultural Safety and Health (ISASH), Logan, UT, United States.
  • Bendixsen, C., & Salzwedel, M. (2017, Sept. 25). Sharing the news of RF-DASH. Pittsville Area Fire Fighting Training, Pittsville, WI, United States.
  • RF-DASH National Training Pilot, Minneapolis, MN, In-person. September 7, 2019.
  • RF-DASH Wisconsin EMS Association Training, Wisconsin Dells, WI, In-person. November 14, 2019.

Project News