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Documenting Your Response to a Natural Disaster

Posted: Oct. 5, 2016

Updated: Sept. 25, 2023

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This NFIRSGram explains how to complete a National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) report for response to a natural disaster or large-scale event.

When a disaster strikes, such as the flooding that occurred in Louisiana, or the wildfires in California, it is common for neighboring fire departments to respond and to assist other governmental agencies responsible for mitigating the incident. When fire departments respond to a natural disaster or another large-scale event, they effectively become the resources of the incident command group for the duration of the event, or until they are released.

Each fire department requested to assist should complete an NFIRS report.

How to document a natural disaster response

  • Aid Given is “Other aid given” (Aid Given code 5), and the Incident Type is “Assist police or other governmental agency” (Incident Type code 551). The single incident report covers the department’s duration of time at the disaster.
  • The Alarm Date and Time is the date and time the department was alerted to respond.
  • The Arrival Date and Time is the date and time the first responding unit arrived at the incident scene.
  • The Last Unit Cleared Date and Time is the date and time the department was released to return to its home quarters. In some cases, this could mean days, weeks or months.
  • Actions Taken on this report are the following codes: 73 – Provide manpower, 74 – Provide apparatus, or 75 – Provide equipment. Note: Record up to three of the most significant actions taken by the fire department at the scene of the incident.
  • Property Use is Code 900 – Outside or special property, other.

Departments may wish to keep track of how many rescues, searches, etc., that they perform while at the disaster, but there is no need to complete a separate NFIRS report for these “incidents” or tasks. They are documented by the state agency heading the operation, recorded in the daily operations plan, and tracked by the Planning and Operations Sections of the Incident Management Team.