National Fire Incident Reporting System documentation

This documentation assists users in reporting National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) 5.0 data and serves as a reference for vendors and third party custom integrators developing software to meet the NFIRS 5.0 specification.

Reference guides

NFIRS 5.0 Complete Reference Guide January 2015 – PDF 5.2 MB
This “NFIRS 5.0 Complete Reference Guide (January 2015)” provides step-by-step instructions for submitting fire incident information to NFIRS 5.0. Previous versions of this guide are out of date and should not be used.

Quick Start Tutorial PDF 2 MB
If you’re new to NFIRS, this tutorial will help you quickly get your fire department online and reporting incidents. Included are:

  • How to register, download and install NFIRS 5.0.
  • Entering your department, personnel and apparatus information.
  • Creating a new incident and filling out the Basic Module.
  • Screen shots of all 10 NFIRS modules.

Release date: May 2017

Review and Assessment of Data Quality in the National Fire Incident Reporting System

cover of Review and Assessment of Data Quality in the National Fire Incident Reporting System

This report contains a review of the NFIRS system, the many robust data quality checks and mechanisms which are an integral part of the system, and an assessment of the data quality both at the state level and at the data element level. It is intended to assist those analyzing data at the national level.

Download the free report PDF 1.5 MB

Design documentation

NFIRS Version 5.0 Design Documentation

Specification Release 2015.1 – January 2015 – PDF 5.4 MB

Provides guidance to software vendors, as well as local and state fire agencies on the specifications necessary to develop NFIRS 5.0.

There are no changes to the NFIRS 5.0 specification for the January 2020 release cycle. Specification Release 2015.1 (January 2015) is the current design specification.

Vendors: specification enforcement begins January 2020. Learn how to comply

Changes to the NFIRS design specification: January 2015

This table contains a log of changes to the design specification for 2015.

These changes will be applied in the 2015.1 cycle of the Design Specification effective January 1, 2015.

Change NumberChange DateDocuments AffectedLocation in Design DocumentDescription of ProblemCorrection Description
3599/10/14SPEC-TABLES.XLS, Design DocumentationDesign Documentation, Incident Module Rule 19, Page 112Needed to allow the Hazardous Materials Module to be completed when the Incident Type was 244 (dust explosion).Updated Incident Module Rule 19 to allow the Hazardous Materials Module for dust explosion incidents.
3609/10/14SPEC-TABLES.XLS, Design DocumentationDesign Documentation, Relational Edit Rule 181, Fire Module, Page 111The rule that required equipment involved in ignition be entered if the incident is not a vehicle fire and the heat source or factors contributing to ignition is heat from operating equipment is removed due to conflicts in some situations when vehicles are involved in the fire. This reverts the rule validation for Equipment Involved in Ignition to the state prior to introduction of Relational Edit 181.Removed/deactivated Relational Edit 181.
3619/10/14SPEC-TABLES.XLS, Design DocumentationDesign Documentation, Relational Edit Rule 14, Basic Module, Page 102Forcible entry is a valid action taken for animal rescue incidents and Relational Edit 14 needed to be modified to reflect that.Allowed the Action Taken of 52 (forcible entry) for Incident Type 542 (animal rescue).
3629/10/14CRGCRG, Basic Module, Page 3-29The definition of 'Intersection' was duplicated on page 3-10 of the CRG.Removed the duplicate section of text.
3639/10/14CRGCRG, Basic Module, Page 3-5The section for state codes needed to be revised to reflect non-state entities that are reporting to NFIRS.Added the 'NA' state code for the Native American Tribal Authority fire departments in a separate table with the “special” state-like entities that are reporting.
3649/10/14CRGCRG, Basic Module, Page 3-24Previous specification change #345 was not reflected in the CRG.Added the Incident Type 244 - 'Dust explosion (no fire)' to the Incident Type codes list.

Specification changes and corrections 1998-2015 - XLS 202 KB
This document contains a log of all changes to the NFIRS specification dating back to 1998.

Design documentation spreadsheet tables January 2013 – XLS – 1.1 MB
These tables contain excerpts from the NFIRS 5.0 design documentation tables in Excel spreadsheet format to help with new software development. Included in this download are the data dictionary (codes and descriptors), chemicals table, wildland federal agency codes, edit requirements, relational edits, security levels, incident flat file transfer format, and incident module rules.

Sample paper forms for NFIRS 5.0 modules Revision 01/01/07, PDF 593 KB
This file includes the following forms: Basic, Supplemental, Fire, Structure Fire, Civilian Fire Casualty, Fire Service Casualty, Emergency Medical Services, Hazardous Materials, Wildland Fire, Apparatus or Resources, Personnel, Arson and Juvenile Firesetter. These forms may be used as a basis for state or local forms.

Structure Fire Cause Matrix

The Structure Fire Cause Matrix helps NFIRS users assign fire incidents to the correct structure fire cause categories. It provides three levels of cause descriptions: a set of more detailed causes (priority cause description), a set of mid-level causes (cause description), and a set of high-level causes (general cause description).

Fires are assigned to one of the 16 mid-level cause groupings using a hierarchy of definitions. A fire is included in the highest category into which it fits on the list. If it does not fit the top category, then the second one is considered, and if not that one, the third, and so on. Once a match is found, the cause is assigned and no further checking of subsequent categories is done in the matrix.

Overview of the Structure Fire Cause Matrix XLS 39 KB
Includes the three-level structure fire cause hierarchy and definitions for mid-level cause groupings.

Structure Fire Cause Matrix (2008 version) XLS 35 KB
An updated version of the 2003 cause hierarchy for structure fires. The revised schema provides three levels of cause descriptions: a set of more detailed causes (priority cause description), a set of mid-level causes (cause description), and a set of high-level causes (general cause description).

Structure Fire Cause Matrix (2003 version) XLS 41 KB
This matrix was replaced with “Structure Fire Cause Matrix” (above) in 2008.

More information on the “Structure Fire Cause Matrix” can be found in the publication “National Fire Incident Reporting System Version 5.0 Fire Data Analysis Guidelines and Issues” July 2011, PDF 915 KB.

Previous design documentation changes

Design documentationPDF 2 MBPDF 5.7 KBPDF 5.3 MBPDF 5.2 MBPDF 5 MBPDF 4.9 MB
Spreadsheet tablesXLS 1 MBXLS 1.1 MBXLS 1.1 MBXLS 1.1 MBXLS 1.1 MB 

Entity Relationship Diagram

The “Entity Relationship Diagram” helps third party integrators to develop a local database in accordance with the NFIRS 5.0 specification and users to run queries against a copy of their NFIRS local database.

NFIRS 5.0 Entity Relationship Diagram ZIP 341 KB

Follow these steps to review the tables, entities and attribute relationships that constitute the NFIRS 5.0 national and local database structure.

  1. Download the file named and save it to the hard drive (desktop or other location).
  2. Unzip the file specifying: Use Folder Names.
  3. To view the ERD, locate and open the folder named NFIRS_ERD.
  4. Locate and open the file named NFIRS_ERD_2005.html.
  5. Use the navigation bar at the top of NFIRS_ERD_2005.html to navigate to information by section.

Software documentation

This documentation with assist you with the download, installation and operation of NFIRS client software.

Data Entry/Validation Tool Users Guide January 2009, PDF 1.8 MB
A guide for the entry, maintenance, and validation of incidents as well as detailed explanation and steps on how to use each tool.

System Administration Tool Users Guide January 2009, PDF 402 KB
A guide for system administrators on how to set up and maintain groups and users. A “Rapid Start-Up Guide” is included.

Configuration Tool Users Guide January 2009, PDF 443 KB
Instructions for setting up user options and local database access.