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Formatting Your Incident Numbers

Posted: June 6, 2020

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This NFIRSGram explains options for coding the date into your National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) incident number field and why the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) recommends that incident numbers be exclusively numeric.

NFIRS will accept any value in the Incident Number field as long as it is 7 numerals or less in length. Incident numbers cannot have dashes, hyphens or alpha characters.

Many fire departments include some type of date code in their incident numbers to help them identify the date upon which the incident occurred. This is possible, however, if a department runs more than 1,000 calls a year, then there is a limit on how much of the date you can include in the incident number.

Important points for formatting incident numbers

  • Limit the Incident Number field to 7 numerals.
  • Incident numbers must be unique for each incident reported on a given day.

Options for formatting your incident numbers

Option 1 Maximum number of incidents per year: 999

If a department runs less than 1,000 calls a year, up to 4 digits of the date can be included in the incident number, such as month and day. For example, the incident number for the first incident that occurs on Jan. 1 would be 0101001.

If another incident occurs on the same day, then the next sequential incident number is used (e.g., 0101002, then 0101003, etc.). If the fourth incident of the year occurred on Jan. 2, you would use 0102004.

Option 2 Maximum number of incidents per day: 999

Use the month and day code to capture all calls that occur on that day, such as 0101001, 0101002, 0102001 and 0102002. Start a new date code each day but start over at incident number 1.

Option 3 Maximum number of incidents per year: 999

Use the year in the identifier, such as 2023001, 2023002, 2023003, etc.

Option 4 Maximum number of incidents per year: 99,999

Use a 2-digit year identifier, such as 2300001, 2300002, 2300003, etc.

Option 5 Maximum number of incidents per year: 9,999,999

Use a straight sequential incident number, such as 0000001, 0000002, 0000003, etc.

Incident numbers generated by your computer-aided dispatch

Often, computer-aided dispatch (CAD) software will auto-populate incident numbers in the NFIRS software application. These CAD-generated numbers are typically 10 digits in length or longer. When this occurs, truncate the incident number in the NFIRS software to no more than 7 numerals. If the incident number is too long, the system will not permit the incident to be imported.


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