The Fire Data World is Changing

Fire data is much more than the incident reports we have filled out for generations.
What we collect, how we collect it, and how we use that information is changing.

Expanding types of data

There is a diversity of data that fire departments collect and share including information about:

Communities and buildings they protect
Risks they are exposed to and mitigate
Equipment they maintain and use
Training they conduct

Traditional incident reports capture only a small part of what firefighters do and how fire departments operate. A novel approach and the latest advances in digital technology are required to help fire departments guide their efforts based on this data.

Cutting-Edge data infrastructure

Traditionally, most organizations have large databases that are designed to store rigidly structured data that conform to defined requirements. As fire departments become more sophisticated creators and users of data the more diverse the types of data they collect and use. Unless every fire department collects the same information, in the same format, and makes every change at the same time, the traditional ways of sharing and comparing data across different fire departments are simply not up to the task.

To address this challenge we leveraged a cutting-edge approach known as a “Data Lake”. Data Lakes allow us virtually unlimited ability to accept data in different formats and different file types. We are using modern approaches to create more standardized ways of using the data to derive insights and guide decision making.

Enhancing data sharing

Fire departments across the United States collect and share incident reports in the NFIRS 5 format. The current approach has a series of collection and consolidation points that while functional and necessary, is not conducive for quickly sharing and comparing data between fire departments. The National Fire Data System is providing a framework that will allow departments to more quickly use new and emerging business intelligence tools to improve their operations.

Developing data solutions

NFPA is actively engaged in a number of innovative research and development activities to transform how fire departments collect and use data. Join us in developing novel data solutions to some of the fire service’s most persistent problems. Your data is the fuel for these innovations.

Clustering fire departments

What fire departments are like mine?

Many fire departments and elected officials want to compare their data with similar departments, yet there is little consensus about which fire departments are similar and what variables are most important when evaluating similarity. We are developing a novel approach to create groups of similar departments based upon a number of variables. These groups can be used for comparison, but also to discuss similar challenges and share approaches to problems.

Mapping fire department boundaries

Which fire department responds to this address?

This fundamental question requires knowing fire department jurisdictional boundaries. While you likely know the outline of our response area, there is no current data source across the country with every department boundary. We are developing a novel approach to approximate the boundaries for analytical purposes. In the meantime, you can help us out and send your shapefile to us directly so we do not have to guess.

Mining fire
narratives

So what happened in that fire last month?

Often the richest source of information about what occurred during an incident is the free text narrative or incident remarks that were written about the call. However, these remarks are often not well used. We are developing a novel approach to identify the most important bits of information from incident remarks, which we hope will save your valuable time.