Why Accurate NFIRS Data Matters

Data matters…big time! As a decision-maker and fire service leader, you already know this. So how do you convince the data-doubters in your organization about the value of data?

I’ve always believed explaining the “why” behind decisions, directives, and procedures results in greater buy-in from the troops. If they know why they are doing something, that task will take on new meaning for them. Crews want to know the time they spend in front of the computer means something more than hundreds of keystrokes and mouse clicks. After all, most of us would rather spend time pulling an attack line or prying open a car door with hydraulic spreaders than sitting in front of the computer.

Fortunately, the National Association of State Fire Marshals put together an outstanding presentation titled “Why Data? Understanding Your Role in Fire Incident Data.”

This recently released professional development course from the NASFM takes the participant through many examples, explaining why high quality, accurate NFIRS data reporting is critical for today’s fire service. It describes the role data plays both locally and nationally. The presentation is colorful, interactive, and clearly designed for the adult learner. You won’t be bored and you will certainly learn something new. The authors obviously had the affective (attitude) aspect of learning in mind when they created this program.

As I progressed through the presentation, I was immediately inspired to write a blog article after absorbing the following statement:

“Research has found that fire department personnel have a number of reasons why NFIRS reports are not as complete and accurate.”

The presentation proceeds to list the following reasons:

  • Concern about a lack of certainty when assigning a cause.
  • Problems with software used for NFIRS reports.
  • Confusion about which NFIRS code to select to describe the incident.
  • Fear of liability if a fire cause is determined.
  • Lack of time to input reports completely.
  • Feeling that the data will not be useful to anyone.
  • Staff not properly trained to fill out reports.

Have you ever heard these concerns from your troops? The NASFM presentation offers practical ways to overcome these barriers.

I enthusiastically recommend this excellent training for every member of your organization. It’s especially good for your department’s data skeptics. I can think of no better training when the polar vortex dips deep into the country and it’s just too cold to do hands-on training. (Remember, I’m from Arizona, so it’s cold anytime the temperature drops below 50° F!)

The NASFM has provided the fire community with evidence-based information that reinforces the mantra I always use when it comes to data: Good stuff in gives you good stuff out.

Ok, what are you waiting for? This opportunity is free and will only take an hour or so. Head over to nasfm-training.org to get started learning about the value of accurate NFIRS data.

Still not convinced? Check out this preview.

As always, thanks for reading.

Stay safe.