NFIRSGram: Documenting casualties on a National Fire Incident Reporting System report

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This NFIRSGram explains how to document firefighter and civilian casualties on a National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) report.

Common questions received by the NFIRS Support Center involve determining when to include a casualty count on an NFIRS report.

Casualties are counted on the NFIRS Basic Module in Section H1. This section is used to count all firefighter injuries or deaths but only civilian injuries or deaths that are the result of a fire. Before we discuss how to document a casualty, we need to define a few of the terms used in NFIRS as they relate to firefighters and civilian casualties.

Definitions

Firefighter casualty
Any firefighter injured or killed as a result of the incident or during the mitigation of the incident, or a firefighter who is injured or killed while on duty, whether or not the injury or death occurred during an incident, such as during station duties, training, etc.
Civilian casualty
Any nonfire department person who is injured or killed as a result of a fire, including injuries or deaths from natural or accidental causes sustained while involved in the activities of fire control, attempting rescue, or escaping from the dangers of the fire. Civilians include emergency personnel who are not members of the fire department, such as police officers or utility workers.
Injury
Physical damage to a person in the fire service or physical damage as a result of a fire to a civilian that requires either treatment by a practitioner of medicine within one year of the incident or at least one day of restricted activity immediately following the incident.
Reported death
Includes a person (i.e., fire service or civilian) who dies within one year of being injured because of injuries sustained from an incident. For a civilian, the death must be related to a fire.

You will notice that in the descriptions above, the deciding factor on when to count the injury or fatality for nonfire department personnel is whether or not the incident is a fire. Civilian casualties should only be counted if the incident is a fire (100 Series of Incident Type codes).

Documenting casualties

Fire departments should count casualties on the NFIRS Basic Module in Section H1. In this section, either the “None” box is checked or the numbers of civilian fire casualties and fire service casualties are entered.

NFIRS Basic Module Section H1

NFIRS Basic Module Section H1

Fire departments include a separate Fire Service Casualty Module for every fire service casualty reported in Section H1, as well as a separate Civilian Fire Casualty Module for every civilian casualty reported in Section H1 of the Basic Module.

This means that in Section H1, if a fire department counts one firefighter injury, one civilian fire injury, and one civilian fatality, the department would also include one Fire Service Casualty Module and two Civilian Fire Casualty Modules with the incident report. If a fire department does not include a casualty module for each casualty reported in Section H1, a warning error is returned by the system stating that the number of casualties reported on the Basic Module does not match the number of casualty modules. If a fire department receives this error after entering its casualty numbers and its casualty modules, the department should verify that it has entered a casualty module for each casualty counted in Section H1 of the Basic Module.

Sample coding scenarios for casualties

Scenario One Scenario Two
The fire department is dispatched to a vehicle accident. Upon arrival, firefighters discover that the vehicle has caught fire because of the accident and find two passengers who have been injured, both of whom are suffering from fractures of the lower appendages. In this scenario, the fire department would document the incident as a vehicle fire, but the injuries should not be counted as civilian fire casualties because the injuries sustained by the passengers are not the result of the fire but a result of the crash — fractures. In Section H1, the person completing the report would check the “None” box or mark zero as the number of civilian and fire service casualties. The fire department is dispatched to a vehicle accident. Upon arrival, firefighters discover that the vehicle has caught fire because of the accident and find two passengers who have been injured, both of whom are suffering from fractures of the lower appendages. One passenger is also suffering from thermal injuries due to the fire extending into the passenger compartment. In this scenario, the fire department would document the incident as a vehicle fire, but only one injury should be counted as a civilian fire casualty because only one injury sustained by a passenger in the vehicle is the result of the fire. In Section H1, the fire department would enter one civilian fire casualty and include a Civilian Fire Casualty Module for the burned passenger.
Scenario Three Scenario Four
A firefighter is taking part in a training evolution and is injured when he falls off a ladder. The fire department should create a report with an Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Incident Type code, indicate in Section H1 of the Basic Module one fire service injury, and attach a Fire Service Casualty Module. The fire department responds to a house fire. While the fire department is at the scene of the incident, a neighbor watching the incident suffers a heart attack. Since this injury is not caused by the neighbor escaping from the fire, attempting to control the fire, or attempting to rescue themselves or someone else from the dangers of the fire, the casualty should not be counted in Section H1 of the incident report. The fire department would likely create a separate incident report for this nonfire-related emergency medical services (EMS) incident.

Conclusion