The fire service responds to all types of emergency and nonemergency incidents. The full effect of those responses is only realized if the incidents are documented, reported, shared and analyzed. The fire service’s tool for achieving this full effect is the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS).
NFIRS is the largest database of fire incidents in the world. Fire departments in all states participate in NFIRS. From 2009-2018, 244 million incidents were reported in NFIRS to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA). More than 28.4 million incidents were reported in 2018.
We are connected to data in many of our day-to-day activities (e.g., communicating, relaxing, traveling and working). Everything we do seems to be data-driven. This data is collected and leaves behind a data footprint of our activities.
For the fire service, NFIRS leaves sets of data footprints behind that track and quantify the activities of the fire departments in the United States. NFIRS documents the emergency and nonemergency response activities of fire departments while allowing the fire service to tell its story in an objective manner through its data.
Data is an effective component in communication. The fire service uses NFIRS as an acceptable, common and proven way of communicating because NFIRS is the national standard that fire incident reporting software uses to collect and report emergency response activities of the fire service. It is based on the National Fire Protection Association standards that are overseen by the Technical Committee on Fire Reporting.
More than 24,000 fire departments — 80 percent of all fire departments in the U.S. — participate in NFIRS. This common language — NFIRS — allows the fire service and other users of NFIRS to document, analyze, and report their data.
The fire service must understand that NFIRS data is a critical business asset. An asset is something of value that adds worth. NFIRS data is an asset because it allows users of NFIRS to identify trends, quantify activities, determine causes, plan the deployment of limited resources, and help in the reduction of loss of life and property caused by fires.