The value of quality incident reporting is realized in several key areas that make up the operational integrity of fire departments infrastructure. While the National Fire Incident Reporting System report is important to the industry in general as outlined per below, an additional benefit to the individual department and its surrounding community, can be seen through improved ISO ratings. These improvements can be obtained through successful incident response cost recovery, resulting in additional funding for greater staffing, training, certification, better equipment and improved facilities in general.
“NFIRS is the world’s largest, national, annual database of fire incident information. Fifty states and the District of Columbia report NFIRS and participating fire departments report 23,000,000 incidents and 1,000,000 fires each year. After responding to an incident, fire department personnel fill out the appropriate NFIRS modules. These describe the nature of the call, the actions fire fighters took in response to the call, and the results. The latter includes the number of civilian or fire fighter casualties and an estimate of property loss. While specific modules filled out by local fire departments may be state-specific, they contain a core of information common to every states reporting system. Local agencies forward the completed NFIRS modules to the state agency responsible for NFIRS data. The state agency then forwards the data to the National Fire Data Center at the U.S. Fire Administration, who uses the data to develop national public education campaigns, to make recommendations for codes and standards, to guide allocation of federal funds, to ascertain consumer product failures, to identify the focus for research efforts and to support federal legislation among other uses.” 1
Chances are, your department will need to report incidents and should decide the best method to handle your NFIRS reporting. You will probably commit funding toward this effort and keeping this in mind, the method or software you choose should incorporate and fulfill as many functions and overall benefits to your department as possible. There are many options available, offering a wide range of features and benefits. Primarily and most importantly you are choosing a vehicle that will facilitate incident reporting, allowing you to periodically forward this data to your state agency. Any software available will offer this basic feature, but there are software packages that offer modules to help with operational data compiling and analytics, as well as cost recovery funding.
You have many tasks related to the management of your department, and these modules are designed to help efficiently manage these tasks and requirements. You may choose from products that streamline management tasks such as, scheduling, time tracking, inventory, maintenance and cost recovery, all right at your fingertips. Live incident command tools such as Google maps integration, mapping incidents, hydrants and occupancy by type, offer you real-time incident imports allowing you to better assure accuracy, safety and efficiency while managing calls.
The key to choosing the best option for your department is finding a package that offers highest flexibility and management efficiency at the most affordable cost. Covenant recommends listing your primary needs and goals noting areas requiring improvement to be sure whichever package you ultimately choose will support all or most of these needs.
Review the various options in your price range keeping your checklist in mind. Locate packages that offer features addressing your primary needs, with options and flexibility in terms of possible future needs.
Covenant suggests reviewing software that is “cloud based.” Cloud-based software allows you to access the reporting program from virtually any “location” and any “device” that supports an Internet connection. The ability to input data using a handheld device while in the field affords greater opportunity for accuracy and more complete data in general. Covenant finds that departments and rescue squads, who currently use a “cloud-based” reporting system, enjoy higher cost recovery collection rates due to several factors including but not limited to faster submission times, higher accuracy and accountability, and incident verification tools such as digital imagery transfer. The additional benefit of digital imagery transfer allows images to be captured at the scene recording specific hazards as they are dealt with and the corrective action being taken. This tool is priceless in terms of recovering costs and provides the highest level of accuracy in reporting! As the old saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”
“Emergency Reporting” is a provider offering cloud-based reporting and Covenant Solutions has established a strategic relationship with
“Emergency Reporting,” the global leader in mobile fire and emergency medical service (EMS) records management to provide valuable interface tools for fire billing data exporting needs. This relationship enables clients the ability to electronically transfer data from their incident reporting account to Covenant’s billing software upon completion of an incident response. Report quality is further improved with the ability to capture and send digital images of your incident response using a hand-held device such as a smart phone, directly into your incident reporting module. All of this can be accomplished while still at the scene of the incident.
It is important when choosing your method of NFIRS reporting, to review all options available and note that the value of complete and accurate reporting can be supported and greatly enhanced through software packages such as Emergency Reporting’s Fire Package and Covenant Solutions’ Cost Recovery Program. The ultimate benefits are fully realized when “cloud-based” incident reports go to work for you, helping to recover funds through modules that can be modified to directly support integration of data. Your incident data can easily be exported to Covenant Solutions’ cost recovery system for processing and recovery of operational funding. These highly beneficial features supported by knowledgeable and cooperative providers stand to offer your department the ultimate tool in cost recovery reporting, allowing both peace of mind for your officers and a healthy budget for your department! n
www.usfa.fema.gov/downloads/pdf/publications/nfirsuse.pdf Information provided by Kirsten Cox, Covenant Solutions Inc.