Fire leaders and line firefighters are seeing that data can help tell their story. Data is gut instinct’s wingman. It validates the collective wisdom of a department and reinforces operational, tactical and inspection discussions with stakeholders in a way that is relevant and quantifiable.
Fire departments today are working on their own, collaborating with vendors and partnering via NFPA's Data Analytics Sandbox to capture and analyze local data as a means for influencing department strategy, budget conversations, outreach efforts, and health and wellness practices.
Former U.S. Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill used to say, “All politics is local.” The same can be said for data. This wasn’t the case in the past. It was a top down process where fire departments were asked to fill out forms. Frankly, many thought it was an administrative nuisance with very little value on the local level. The data was outdated and aggregated, therefore it was not persuasive during those hard discussions with local officials.
Today, data is being captured and analyzed by departments, shared with community decision-makers and the type of data is being expanded upon by national leaders like NFPA. The result is a clearer picture of the fire service in stations, headquarters, city halls, town offices and throughout the nation.
A new generation of fire service data is upon us. The National Fire Data System (NFDS), which is being funded by an Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) and developed by NFPA, will help fire departments tell their story.
NFPA has had the back of the fire service for more than a century - providing standards and research related to fire hazards, operations, ground assault, inspections, prevention, health and wellness. We understand the pressure the fire service is under. Fires are declining and our first responders are being asked to take on additional roles in disaster response, emergency medical services, community paramedicine, fire prevention, and other disciplines. NFPA believes that fire, life and building safety data can help change the conversation; and we are excited to work with fire service innovators that want to effect positive change with computer learning and smart technology.