National Fire Incident Reporting System Reference Guide

Technical BulletinLast updated Saturday, January 31, 2015
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In 1972, the President’s Commission on Fire Prevention and Control published America Burning. This document was the first in-depth discussion of this country’s fire problem. An outgrowth of America Burning was the National Fire Prevention and Control Act, Public Law 93–498, which established the National Fire Prevention and Control Administration.

One of the results of the P.L. 93–498 mandate to collect national data on fires was the establishment of the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS). In 1976, six States piloted what eventually evolved into NFIRS. The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), a component of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), developed NFIRS as a means of assessing the nature and scope of the fire problem in the United States.

NFIRS has grown in both participation and use. Over the life of the system, all 50 States, more than 40 major metropolitan areas, and more than 15,000 fire departments have participated in NFIRS. On a yearly basis, approximately 600,000 fire incidents and more than 5 million non-fire incidents are added to the database. NFIRS is the world’s largest collection of incidents to which fire departments respond.

NFIRS data are used at all levels of government. At the local level, incident and casualty information is used for setting priorities and targeting resources. The data now being collected are particularly useful for designing fire prevention and educational programs and emergency medical service (EMS)-related activities specifically suited to the real emergency problems the local community faces.

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