How data can make us safer

Hopefully your department is one of the more than 22,000 fire departments across the United States that participate in the system


By now I hope you've had a chance to read the new United States Fire Administration (USFA) report: Fire-Related Firefighter Injuries Reported to NFIRS.

The document is a short 11 pages, but it provides a wealth of information for firefighters and fire departments to assess their personal and organizational risk of firefighter injuries.

The quality of this report, and many others like it, greatly depends on the quality of data reported by local fire departments to the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS).

You've probably heard of NFIRS before, and hopefully your department is one of the more than 22,000 fire departments across the United States that participate in the system.

If so, recognize that many analyses of national-level fire data (like this one) used to make decisions about fire-related public policy, and funding, rely heavily on the quality of the data you provide when filling out fire and emergency incident reports.

It may not seem important at 3am, but accurately completing incident reports (for every incident) is critical for helping to describe the overall fire problem in your local jurisdiction, state, and across the United States.

 

About the author

With more than two decades in the field, Chief Adam K. Thiel — FireRescue1's editorial advisor — is an active fire chief in the National Capital Region and a former state fire director for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Chief Thiel's operational experience includes serving with distinction in four states as a chief officer, incident commander, company officer, hazardous materials team leader, paramedic, technical rescuer, structural/wildland firefighter and rescue diver. He also directly participated in response and recovery efforts for several major disasters including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Tropical Storm Gaston and Hurricane Isabel.

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