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17 Posts authored by: martyahrens Employee

This is the second in a series of posts about the 40th anniversary of America Burning and the related NFPA Journal article. The National Commission on Fire Prevention and Control was frustrated by how little was known about the causes and circumstances of fires. In the very first chapter, the Commission recommended “that a national fire data system be established to provide a continuing review and analysis of the entire fire problem. USFA’s National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS), the source of detailed information in most of NFPA’s statistical analyses, was the result.

The country also needed a better understanding of fire behavior and fire department productivity. This led to NIST’s Center for Fire Research and – “Better firefighting through research.”

We still have data needs. Currently, NFPA is entering the public comment phase for the second draft of the proposed NFPA 950: Standard for Data Development and Exchange for the Fire Service and seeking input or proposals for the proposed NFPA 951: Guide to Building and Utilizing Digital Information.

What kinds of data or information do you use or need about fire? Where or how do you get it? What are the obstacles? How could we get better data?


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Since I started working with the fire service in 1986, I have heard one refrain over and over: “They talked about that in America Burning+.”  +On May 4, 1974, the National Commission on Fire Prevention and Control transmitted their findings to President Richard Nixon. In my article in ths month's +NFPA Journal+, I looked at the changes resulting from just a few of the 90 recommendations.  The Commissioners felt that fire protection was primarily a local responsibility, but that local fire departments needed a federal agency that could represent their interests and help ensure that they received the latest and best information on how to do their work more safely and effectively.  Their recommendations led to the formation of the US Fire Administration (USFA), and within USFA, the National Fire Academy (NFA) . You can read reflections about the America Burning Anniversary posted by USFA Administrator Chief Ernest Mitchell.

What has it meant to the fire service to have the USFA and NFA?  What do you think the Commissioners would recommend for these bodies today? Let’s take advantage of the web tools the Commission did not have to start a national conversation.  NFPA is making some companion videos to start the ball rolling.  Listen to David Lucht, the first Deputy Administrator of the USFA, describe the early years at USFA. 


This is the first of a series of posts related to America Burning.  Check back for more on this topic.

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