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America’s ‘Fire Problem’: Myth or Reality? continued The data have remained remarkably consistent over the last decade, but the collecting agency, the Center for Fire Statistics of the International Association of Fire and Rescue Services, acknowledges, “Readers should also be aware that every country has its own methods of data collection and analysis of fires, fire deaths and fire injuries. These methods can change over time in individual countries, and this also can affect the results, as can changes in national boundaries.”6 U.S. DATA SOURCES In the U.S., the two predominant sources of public fire data are the United States Fire Administration (USFA) National Fire Data Center and NFPA. While there are other proprietary data collection organizations (most notably Verisk Analytics/ISO) municipal fire services typically report their incident data to the USFA through a data collection tool called the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS). According to USFA, NFIRS is the world's largest, national, annual database of fire incident information: “The NFIRS database comprises about 75 percent of all reported fires that occur annually. Every U.S. state and the District of Columbia reports NFIRS data. Nationally, about 23,000 fire departments report in NFIRS each year, including over 30 fire departments protecting a population of more than 500,000. Participating fire departments report about 22,000,000 incidents and 1,000,000 fires each year.”7 These data provide an excellent picture of U.S. fire incidence. NFPA uses NFIRS data in conjunction with a survey method that allows for “big picture estimates.” NFPA data analysts send surveys to all local fire departments that protect populations of 50,000 or more and a sample of smaller departments. The responses they collect are used to create statistical analyses of the fire picture in the U.S.8 These two data sources—USFA and NFPA—are cited most commonly by the fire service when they discuss America’s “fire problem.” Another data set—created by the International Association of Fire Fighters, the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Center for Public Safety Excellence—is called NFORS: the National Fire Operations Reporting System. Its goals are to assure adequate fire resources are available to optimize fire operations, to reduce fire fighter and public injuries and deaths, and to minimize property losses.9 Due to the sheer size of the databases and the challenges in data collection, the Source: Fire incidents by type in the United States from 1977 through 2014. Reprinted with permission from NFPA’s report, “Fire Loss in the United States During 2014,” by Hylton J. G. Haynes © 2015, National Fire Protection Association.5 Table 1. Average Number of Fires per Year, 2010-2014 Rank Countries Number of Fires 1 United States 600,000 to 1.5 million 2 UK, France, Germany, Russia, Poland, China, India, Brazil, Italy, Mexico, Australis, Argentina, Pakistan 100,000 to 600,000 3 Japan, Indonesia, Turkey, Canada, South Africa, Malaysia, Netherlands, Ukraine, Spain, Iran and others 20,000 to 100,000 4 Thailand, Algeria, Uzbekistan, Romania, Kazakhstan, Cuba, Czech Republic, Belgium, Serbia, Denmark, Finland and others 10,000 to 20,000 5 Iraq, Sri-Lanka, Syria, Tunis, Slovakia, Georgia, Singapore, Croatia, Philippine and others 5,000 to 10,000 Source: Center for Fire Statistics of the International Association of Fire and Rescue Services Figure 1. Fire Incidents in the United States 1977 to 2013 OCTOBER 2016 | 28


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