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Data Quality

What is as true in a fire department as in a Fortune 500 corporation? Data drives decision-making.

For the fire service, this data is collected in the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS). It’s critical to make sure the data collected is complete and accurate because this information is used at all levels — from local budget development to the identification of national preparedness initiatives.


Notice of enforcement: NFIRS 2015 specification cycle

To improve data quality and consistency, we are enforcing several 2015 specification cycle rules previously not enforced by the NFIRS validation process.

Learn about 2015 specification cycle enforcement


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

This report provides an assessment of NFIRS data quality, both at the state and data element levels, and highlights data quality checks and mechanisms available within the system.

Download the report

National Fire Data Center internal data quality checks

The National Fire Data Center (NFDC) works to identify NFIRS data errors and to assist states and fire departments in fixing them.

Accurate fire incident reports are important. They can impact your department just as much as the entire United States. When incidents are documented for the NFIRS, there is the potential for data entry errors — mistakes that can alter the intended meaning of the information.

Several mistakes across a region may not be significant, but many mistakes in the same region — or worse, across the entire country — can dramatically affect the meaning of the data. The same result occurs when data is generalized, such as the overuse of the codes for unknown, none or other. Below are 3 identified mistake trends in the data, along with a brief discussion of each.

Data quality check reports

Since the goal is to provide the best data possible, the NFDC developed a series of internal data quality reports in 2021 to identify some of these data errors and assist states and fire departments in resolving them. The reports are all scheduled in the NFIRS Data Warehouse and run automatically each month to provide states with updated reports on their fire departments' incidents. They are automatically emailed to the NFIRS state program managers.

  • High Dollar Loss: This report shows all fire incidents with a Total Loss value >= $10 million.
  • High Response or Duration Times: This report looks at incidents with a Response Time >= 24 hours or a Duration Time >= 120 hours.
  • Large Civilian Casualties: This report identifies those incidents with Civilian Injuries >=5 or Civilian Fatalities >=5.
  • Monthly Participation Report: This report shows fire department reporting by month. If a fire department had no incidents for the month but has reported a No Activity report, then the month will show “NA” for No Activity. Months highlighted in blue are missing incident reports for those months.
  • Departments Not Reporting: This report identifies fire departments that reported incidents in the previous year but have not reported any incidents for the current year.
  • Invalid Incidents Report: This report shows fire department-reported incidents by incident status and shows the percent of their incidents that are invalid. Invalid incidents with departments are highlighted in blue.

Please email the NFIRS Help Desk at with any questions.

Coding guidelines to improve data quality

Nov. 29, 2023

How to document wildfires

Coding, Data Quality, Other Modules

It is important to document wildfires in NFIRS completely and accurately to better understand the impacts they have in our country. Tips on how to code wildfires.

Nov. 29, 2023

How to code fire incidents involving lithium-ion batteries

Basic Module, Coding, Data Quality, Other Modules

Learn how to code a NFIRS report for a fire incident in a vehicle, structure or equipment where a lithium-ion battery is present and involved.

June 21, 2023

3 reasons why the NFIRS is important

Data Quality, Data Analysis

3 reasons why it's important for your fire department to use NFIRS.

June 19, 2023

Dispatched and canceled en route

Basic Module, Coding, Data Quality

Learn how to correctly use the 'Incident Type Code 611 — Dispatched and canceled en route' when writing an NFIRS report.

June 19, 2023

Aid given or received

Coding, Basic Module, Data Quality

Learn how correctly use the 'Aid Given' or 'Received field (Block D)' in the Basic Module when submitting an NFIRS report.

Dec. 17, 2020

Why getting the incident type right matters

Basic Module, Data Quality

Understand why getting the incident type field right matters.

Dec. 17, 2020Updated: Oct. 25, 2023


Data quality

Basic Module, Data Quality

Learn how internal data quality checks are performed by the National Fire Data Center to identify data errors and to assist in fixing them.

Dec. 17, 2020

Understanding the 20-minute response warning message

Basic Module, Data Quality

Understanding the 20-minute response warning message.

June 6, 2020

Formatting your incident numbers

Basic Module, Coding, Data Quality

Options for coding dates into your NFIRS incident numbers.