This NFIRSGram explains how to correctly use the Aid Given or Received field (Block D) in the Basic Module when submitting an incident report to the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS).
Aid information can be used to study response levels necessary to control various fire and emergency situations. It can be used to determine the adequacy of resources at the local level and the need for adjusting incident response assignments. The Aid Given or Received entry serves as data control to ensure that the same incident is not counted more than once while still giving credit for activity performed by outside fire departments.
NFIRS requires the Aid Given or Received field to be completed for all incidents. There are 6 possible codes to enter for this field.
A fire department receives mutual or automatic aid from 1 or more fire departments (any agency with a different fire department identification (FDID)). The fire department receiving aid is referred to as the primary fire department on scene, of which there can only be 1 on scene. There can be multiple fire departments giving aid to 1 primary fire department per incident. If a fire department receives help from a non-fire service emergency medical services (EMS) department, no aid is given or received because the EMS department is not a fire department. Remember, aid is only given or received between fire departments with different FDIDs. It is helpful to think of aid from the perspective of your fire department: Did you help someone or did someone help you?
- 1 – Mutual Aid Received.
- The primary fire department requests mutual aid from an outside fire department.
- 2 – Automatic Aid Received.
- This includes a fire department receiving aid from an outside fire department that was dispatched automatically based on a prior agreement between 2 jurisdictions. This typically means that the fire departments were dispatched at the same time.
- 3 – Mutual Aid Given.
- A fire department gives aid to an outside fire department upon request by the primary fire department.
- 4 – Automatic Aid Given.
- This includes fire departments automatically dispatched to give aid to an outside fire department based on a prior agreement between 2 jurisdictions. This typically means that the fire departments were dispatched at the same time.
- 5 – Other Aid Given.
- A fire department responds to another jurisdiction or locale that has no fire department coverage.
- N – No Aid Given or Received.
- A fire department handles an incident within its jurisdiction without help from other fire departments. This code must be used when only 1 fire department responds to an incident. Additionally, it must be used when the Incident Type Code is 611 — Dispatched and canceled en route. Aid given or received calls require the arrival of 2 or more fire departments on scene. A Canceled en Route incident type means a fire department does not arrive on the scene and aid will always be N.
Completing the report
For codes 1, 2, 5 and N, the primary fire department must complete the Basic Module in its entirety and any additional required modules.
For codes 3 and 4, the fire department giving aid must complete the Basic Module fields through Block G1 (Resources). If known, fire departments should complete the fields in Block D of the Basic Module for FDID, State and Incident Number for the fire department receiving aid. No other information is required for the Basic Module unless a fire service casualty occurs. In this case, Block H1 (Casualties) must be completed along with a Fire Service Casualty Module for each casualty. Do not complete the Fire, Structure Fire or Civilian Fire Casualty modules. These modules must be completed by the fire department receiving aid (the primary fire department). Including this information could result in double reporting the information into the state or national databases.
If you give aid, you may choose to report your own resources as an option (Block G1). Similarly, if you receive aid, you may choose to count only your own resources or count your own resources plus those of the aid-giving fire department. If you include aid-received resources, check or mark the corresponding box.
What is the difference between mutual aid and automatic aid?
Automatic aid indicates an agreement between fire departments for the automatic sharing of response resources. Mutual aid indicates that resources are requested. A single incident with multiple fire departments may have a combination of mutual and automatic aid.
What if I respond as the primary fire department to a different jurisdiction?
There are a few options on coding the Aid Given or Received field in this situation.
Fire Department A is responding to a building fire (Incident Type Code 111) in Fire Department B’s jurisdiction. However, Fire Department B is unavailable to respond to the incident. Fire Department A becomes the primary fire department for this incident. Any other fire departments who arrive to the incident would be giving aid to Fire Department A.
Note: If Fire Department B becomes available later, they could give aid to Fire Department A for this specific instance and Fire Department A would remain the primary fire department. It is also possible that Fire Department B would take over as the primary fire department and Fire Department A would be giving aid. Primary fire department status is not determined by which department’s unit arrived first.
Fire Department A is responding to a building fire (Incident Type Code 111) in a part of the county without a fire department. When Fire Department A responds, they are providing Other Aid Given, Code 5. The rest of the report should be completed, including additional modules and information about civilian fire casualties and property values/loss.
Is a cover/fill-in situation the same as mutual aid?
Cover or fill-in situations occur when:
- The first fire department knows they will be unable to respond to calls for a specific period.
- The second fire department will be acting as the first fire department for those responses occurring in the first fire department’s jurisdiction.
In cover or fill-in situations, there is no aid given or received between the 2 fire departments because both fire departments are not on the scene. Some common reasons why fire departments request fire department cover are trainings, funerals and extended duration incidents.
Fire Department A must attend a training evolution and will be away from their station for 8 hours. They request Fire Department B to provide cover while they are away.
Fire Department B creates a report with Incident Type Code 571 — Cover assignment, assist other fire agency such as standby at a fire station or move up. The Aid Given or Received field will have the code N — No aid given or received.
Additionally, Fire Department B will use Fire Department A’s FDID to complete any incident reports for any calls they responded to. This includes Incident Type Code 611 — Dispatched and canceled en route calls. The Aid Given or Received field will have the code N — None unless another fire department arrives on scene to assist with the incident. During this time, Fire Department B is Fire Department A.
Note: If Fire Department B does not have access to Fire Department A’s FDID, then Fire Department A could use Fire Department B’s notes about the situation to complete the incident report in their own record management system. Otherwise, the fire departments should work with the NFIRS state program manager to move the incident to the correct fire department or group. All apparatus and personnel from Fire Department A in the cover assignment should be recorded under Fire Department B if they responded to the incident.
- Aid is only given or received between fire departments.
- The fire department receiving aid is also referred to as the primary fire department. There can be only 1 primary fire department but multiple fire departments giving aid per incident.
- A Canceled en Route incident type means a fire department does not arrive on the scene and aid will always be N.
- For codes 1, 2, 5 and N, the primary fire department must complete the Basic Module in its entirety and any additional required modules.
- For codes 3 and 4, the fire department giving aid must complete the Basic Module fields through Block G1 (Resources).
For more information about NFIRS, please contact the NFIRS Support Center: Monday – Friday between 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. ET, at 888-382-3827 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.