Jill Bronaugh
Communication Manager
Office of the State Fire Marshal
800 SW Jackson, Suite 104
Topeka, KS 66612-1216
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Press Releases

What is NFIRS? And how does it help fight fire?

Sara Wood, NFIRS Program Manager | Nov 05, 2015

What is NFIRS?It’s a requirement. It’s a black hole. It’s paperwork.  Nope, it’s NFIRS, the National Fire Information Reporting System. It’s a program that can change the face of the fire service, impact the safety of your population, and make sure you have the information you need. There are many names for NFIRS. Some call it by a state program name and others call it by the software program a department purchased. Some simply call it “run reports.” It’s all the same thing, no matter what you call it. 

Let NFIRS be your fire department’s advocate

Need new tools? Need a new truck? How are you going to convince the Powers That Be to get that for you? You have to give them a reason. You need cold hard numbers without feelings and emotions. “Mr. Board President, we ran 50 fires at buildings with three or more stories last year where 12 people were injured. Owners had damages in excess of $2 million and we feel we can do better at saving lives and property by adding a quint to our fleet.”  You can get persuasive information easily through NFIRS.  Unfortunately, many departments find data quality issues with NFIRS right when they need the numbers. Do your department a favor and pretend you need some large piece of equipment. You probably won’t have to pretend very hard. Go check out your NFIRS reports and see if your data quality would support a strong argument. Does it? Identify your areas for cleanup so NFIRS can be your advocate when you need it. I’m not promising you’ll get everything but you’ll at least have something to back up your proposal. People like numbers, especially those behind a dollar sign, and they like to know what those numbers are buying. 

You’re not just advocating for your department. This is a national program. Someone somewhere is looking at NFIRS numbers and making a decision that impacts Fire Service resources. If your numbers aren’t included you are not the only department that suffers.

Not every community has the same problem

Public safety is a moving target. Moving from highly populated areas to rural agricultural areas change the needs of the Fire Service. Even changing the age demographics of your population will create new problems. You have to understand your area and your demands. NFIRS can help with that. By accurately reporting you also gain the ability to accurately analyze. When you can analyze a problem you can educate and prepare. Educate your communities or provide information so someone else can present the education. You are in a position to educate because you are close to the community, usually a direct member of it. Your voice will be taken seriously.  Often times the fire department is so busy handling emergencies that prevention sweeps to the back. Use your NFIRS information to target your top community safety concern and spread that information. If you don’t have time, partner with local organizations that will run with what you give them. Preventing emergencies will lighten your load and help your community directly. 

Did I mention NFIRS reporting can also help your ISO rating? That’s right. A better ISO rating is good for you and your community. NFIRS is so important that ISO is willing to take your compliance (or non-compliance) into account. 

NFIRS is the voice of the fire service and it is speaking more places than you might know: product recalls, station placement and coverage, personal protection equipment development, funding, grants, educational programs, and so many more. Every report matters and it’s not being stuffed into a black hole. No department is too small to participate.