National Fire Incident Reporting System reporting guidelines

To facilitate the timely analysis of the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) data, the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) has developed guidelines on when states and fire departments should submit their incident data.

State guidelines

States should submit NFIRS data to the USFA on a quarterly basis, but monthly submission of data is encouraged.

Reporting NFIRS data to the USFA consists of two steps:

  1. Submitting data to USFA.
  2. Releasing the data into the public domain.

States may release their data by:

  • Contacting USFA through email at FEMA-NFIRSHELP@fema.dhs.gov or by telephone at 888-382-3827.
  • Using the System Administration tool in the USFA software to release your data.
  • Using the System Administration Tool in the USFA Web-Based Tools section of the NFIRS webpage.

Important points

  • Fire departments should report their incident data as soon as possible to their state agencies.
  • States should release their data quarterly to facilitate the USFA quality assurance process.
  • The reporting deadline for the previous calendar year is July 1 of the current calendar year.
  • If incidents are not in the national database, and are not released, then they cannot be included on the public data release.

Quarterly data submission and release dates

First quarterApril 1
Second quarterJuly 1
Third quarterOctober 1
Fourth quarterJanuary 1

Annual data submission deadline

The annual data submission deadline is July 1. States may revise, correct and resubmit data to USFA for the previous calendar year until that date. After July 1, we will compile and release the annual national NFIRS database for the previous calendar year into the public domain.


How long does it take to get the data back out?

There is a misconception that it takes the USFA two years to release the public data set, when in fact, delays are typically caused by numerous fire departments and states not meeting the reporting deadlines.

After the reporting deadline of July 1, the USFA begins its quality assurance of the data by verifying incidents that have a high dollar loss (currently that threshold is $20 million), and asking for more information on fire incidents that might be missing crucial information on the fire module. In addition, the USFA may ask fire departments to correct malformed incident numbers and negative dollar loss incidents.

This process typically takes two to four months to complete before the public data release for that year’s data can be compiled and published. The public data release is then produced and is ready for use by the public in November or December each year. If a significant number of departments have not completed reporting their data for that year, this process can be delayed by several months.


Fire department guidance

Your state NFIRS office will set the rules on when and how you should report your incident data; however, at a minimum, the USFA recommends that fire departments submit their data to their state NFIRS program offices at monthly intervals. Departments using the USFA software or web-based application can submit their incident data as they perform the data entry process to provide real-time reporting of incident data to their state. If your department has no incidents during the month, you should submit a report of “no activity” to your state for the reporting period.