Data Increasingly Useful to Fire Service, NFPA Survey Finds

Collection has grown far beyond incident data, and a comprehensive approach to connect all fire activity data is needed to ensure that departments work with data that truly accounts for the full picture of their activities.

Fire data are critical and essential for public safety and for job performance, and the U.S. fire service is increasingly using data to manage organizational operations and emergency response deployment strategies, NFPA's National Fire Data Survey has found. The association reported it is partly through an 18-month National Fire Data System project to lay the groundwork for a horizontally and vertically scalable system to collect data from fire departments; NFPA received an Assistance to Firefighters Grant last fall to begin developing the system.

The survey was designed to learn what types of data fire departments collect; what software they use to capture, store, and analyze data; and how they use the data for local decision-making. More than 470 fire and public safety members responded to the survey -- career and volunteer fire chiefs and company officers and firefighters from urban, suburban, and rural departments.

NFPA reported the survey findings included these:

  • A growing paradigm shift from creating static fire records that satisfy reporting requirements to developing and actively using dynamic, digital fire data by utilizing a variety of systems.
  • Fire departments are increasingly analyzing data for decision-making and discussions with local authorities.
  • Collection has grown far beyond incident data, and a comprehensive approach to connect all fire activity data is needed to ensure that departments work with data that truly accounts for the full picture of their activities.
  • There does not appear to be one overarching fire data problem nor a one-size-fits-all fire data solution.

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