Forbes piece highlights the growing importance of data in the fire service

Blog Post created by mhinds-aldrich Employee on Jan 17, 2017


Fire departments fight fires, but they also deal with an awful lot of other incidents…Bernard Marr recently captured the essence of the modern fire service in his excellent piece on the promise of big data analytics to transform the fire service in Forbes.  Marr highlights the work of firefighter-cum-data scientist Bart van Leeuwen from the Amsterdam fire department and Netage to transform how firefighters operate safely and effectively during emergency incidents using data science.  While this is the most visible, and given the focus on firefighter safety perhaps even the most important way data science can and will transform the fire service, it is not the only way.  Data science is already transforming how fire departments deliver service, identify high risk properties, and document their activities. It may not seem as exciting as robotics, augmented reality and other emerging technology used on scene, but this is the area where data science holds the most promise.  NFPA is leading the way in transforming this knowledge and information by:

  • Exploring the application of graph theory and data shapes to the NFIRS dataset— the secret sauce behind TurboTax®;
  • Building a Data Solutions Portal that will provide the fire service with a modern one-stop-data-shop for data to drill down into their local fire problem;
  • And, more ambitiously building a new national fire data system that will transform how data is collected and utilized by the fire rescue service.

NFPA is at the forefront of the data analytics paradigm shift for the fire service.  At a time when the “do more with less” mantra has reached a fever pitch, data science holds many of the keys to helping fire departments understand their fire problem and tell their story to keep firefighters and the communities they protect safer.