The following information is couresty of Victorian Country Fire Authority, the Department of Natural Resources & Environment and the "Fireman" The volunteer firefighters paper (Victoria)


There is little doubt that wildfire firefighting is a physically demanding occupation, that has potential life threatening hazards associated with it.

Provision of adequate and appropriate food and water is vital to the wellbeing of , and the continued optimal performance of firefighters. "Failure to provide adequate energy, nutrition, and fluid replacement leads first to a decrease in work performance, and then to illness as the immune system become compromised."

Issues related to the management of the fire often make it difficult for firefighters to be fed when they are hungry, particularly within the first 8 - 12 hours.

Ration Packs

Ration packs are designed to provide energy, in the form of food, to ensure continued optimum performance. They are intended to provide necessary nutrition until the formal catering process is established.

Nutritional Information

Energy is vital for effective firefighting. A constant supply of energy reduces both mental and physical fatigue. The energy source that our body likes best is Carbohydrates.

For meal replacement packs carbohydrates of low to moderate GI factor are recommended. For snack ration packs food of moderate to high GI factor are recommended. (The GI factor is the speed carbohydrates are absorbed in the body)

Carbohydrates are the only fuel that the brain and red blood cells can use.

So what are Carbohydrates ?

In order for firefighters to work at their optimal performance it is generally recommended that they consume food's high in carbohydrates at least every four hours, more if hungry.

Appropriate food, water and rest has been found to reduce fatigue by half.

In order for firefighters to continue to work at their optimal performance it is generally recommended that they consume food (not necessarily a meal) every four hours.

Water should be drunk continuously every 10 - 15 minutes

Factors important in creating ration packs are;

It is perceived that ration packs play two roles;

Example Ration Pack

(Qty per firefighter, taken from attached list)


Item Quantity (min)
Sustagen Tetra Pak 1
Breakfast / Cereal Bars 2
Crispbread & Dip 1
Dried Fruit / Trail Mix 250gms
Mars / "Health" Bar 2
Water 2 litres
Gatorade (powder added to water)  


Mea & pasta or Meat & vegetables or Meat & lentils or Meat & noodles 375gms
Tinned fruit or Fruit Cake or Rice Cream small tin

Tea/coffee is not recommended, if necessary use for morale purposes only as it can restrict fluid replacement)

A more extensive table of suitable foods.

Food Use By Date GI Rating
Fruit Biscuits 6 months Moderate
Fruit Strips 6 months High
Coco Pop Crunchies (Cereal Bars) 6 months High
La Snak Crispbread/Dip 6 months Moderate
Muesli Bars 6 - 12 months Moderate
Fruit Breaks/Fruit filled bars 6 - 12 months Moderate
Long life milk 6 - 10 months Low
Sustagen Tetra Pak 6 - 10 months Low
Sesame Bars 6 - 12 months Moderate
Nuts, Trail Mix 6 - 12 months Moderate
Meal Replacement Bars 6 - 12 months Moderate
Dried Fruit 6 - 12 months Low
Mars, Snickers etc bars 12 months Moderate
2 minute noodles 12 months Low
Lollies, Jelly Beans 12 months High
Cereals, Nutrigrain, Grinners, Max NRG, Mini Wheat 12 months Moderate
Fruit Cake 12 Months Moderate
Breakfast Bars 12 months High
Tea Bags 2 years  
Coffee Bags 2 years  
Tinned Fruit No Date Low
Baked Beans, Spaghetti, Tinned Ravioli No Date Low
Tinned Spam, Corned Beef No Date  
Tinned Vegetables (peas, corn, carrots) No Date Low
Tinned Lentils No Date Low
Tinned Tuna, Salmon No Date  
Electrolyte Drinks ( Gatorade, Power ade) Powder No Date High
Rice Cream No Date Moderate

Use by Dates

Clearly food which can be stored for an extended period of time is important.

These have been listed as:

However food contained in ration packs will be exposed to heat and vibration. In the past this has resulted in changes to the food. It is recommended that food is thrown out once a year regardless of the use by date, unless it can be guarantee that the food has not been adulterated.

Food List

This is best determined by discussing the packs with those who will be eating them.

Foods that obviously will spoil due to heat, vibration or life span should not be used. In addition products that are caffeine based, "fizzy' drinks and fruit juice/drinks should be avoided as they can restrict hydration.

Brigades and individuals should discuss any special dietary needs (e.g diabetes, allergies) during the development of rations packs.

Important Notes: