Did you know that your voice needs to be heard about “NFIRS Codes”? For those of you that think that you have to live with the “unreasonable enforcement” of NFIRS Codes in your Fire Records Management System, you actually have a voice – and it needs to be heard!
What am I talking about you may ask? There are several examples that I could cite, however for this blog post I will limit my remarks to one recent decision that has come from the National NFIRS Program Manager that should have all Fire Chief’s in the nation “up in arms”!
“What in the world is this guy so upset about?” You may be asking yourself. Well here is the thing. With the tight budgets we have had in the Fire Sector since the “Housing Collapse (and therefore TAX Collapse) of 2008”, most Fire Departments are doing the same job with less and relying on Mutual Aid a little more if and when available. So what has that got to do with NFIRS Codes and your fire records management program? Plenty!
How are your Automatic Aid Agreements (Contracts) written? Most say that when “Agency A” asks for one of your Engines (“E1”) to be on a “Run Card” and it comes up on the “Dispatch List” for an Incident Alarm, that you will immediately send that unit if it is available. So, when “E1” is dispatched, don’t all of us understand that E1 is committed to that “Mutual Aid Incident” from the time it is dispatched until it is back in its “First Due Area” with adequate equipment and personnel?
Well… that may be how WE all understand it to be, because of our “Automatic Aid Agreements (Contracts)”, but as of last year the National NFIRS Program Manager made an arbitrary decision that “If a unit (E1 example above) responding to a Mutual Aid Incident DOES NOT ARRIVE at the incident, that response is to be coded as “None” in the “Mutual Aid Field” (and apparently, by inference “Agency A” is to DELETE E1 from their Resources list, not list them as “Cancelled Enroute”.
Let’s think about how that affects your ability to honestly report on all incidents that we responded to in the last X-number of months where we “Gave” and/or “Received” Automatic Aid (per our Contract). If we follow the direction of National NFIRS Program Manager then we cannot simply run the same reports that we always have for “Automatic Aid Given by Agency” and “Automatic Aid Received by Agency” and summarize the Time Committed (From Dispatch to Available) to analyze if we are still receiving benefit from the Contract, or if it needs to be re-negotiated. Not only that, but this enforcement goes absolutely contrary to how we as Fire Agencies do business!
What can you do about this? Well, you can thank ZOLL that they are not enforcing this at “Data Entry” but on the “NFIRS Data Export” end! And secondly, you can write an email to your State NFIRS Program Manager and to National NFIRS Program Manager and make your voice heard.