Frequently Asked Questions

FireCARES


What is FireCARES?

The Fire-Community Assessment Response Evaluation System, known as FireCARES, is a "big data" analytical system providing important information to fire service and community leaders about their local fire department and the risk environment in which firefighters are called to respond. FireCARES includes more than a decade of research on structure fires and related injuries and death, as well as building footprints, housing and mobile home units, public health and census data, and vulnerable populations. FireCARES combines large sets of data from various sources to "tell the story" of a fire department in regard to its risk environment, resource capacity, and overall capability to respond to emergency incidents.

The FireCARES project, funded by FEMA AFG, raises the bar for the technical discussion of community hazards and risks and the impact of changes to fire department resource levels.

Who built FireCARES?

The same team of researchers, academics, and fire service professionals who conducted the landmark NIST Residential Fireground Experiments (NIST TN 1661) and the NIST High-Rise Fireground Experiments (NIST TN 1797) built FireCARES. FireCARES partners include NIST, the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), the Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Association, the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), the Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI-Risk), Underwriters Laboratory (UL), the Urban Institute, the University of Texas at Austin, and Worcester Polytechnic.

Who funded FireCARES?

The FireCARES project is funded by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG). (EMW-2015- FP-00312)

Is there a cost to fire departments to use or add data to FireCARES?

No, at this time there is no cost to fire departments to use the system.

Accounts


How can I get an account with FireCARES?

Fire Chiefs/Department Chiefs/Chief Officers/Commissioners/CEOs/Presidents: See detailed instructions about logging into FireCARES.

IAFF Officers: See detailed instructions about logging into FireCARES.

Others: If you are a member of a specific organization that has been cleared for login, you can register to get a FireCARES account using your email with the organizations email domain. Currently, the following whitelisted email domains include:

  • iafc.org
  • iaff.org
  • nist.gov
  • ul.com
  • urban.org
  • wpi.edu
  • utexas.edu
  • dhs.gov
  • fema.gov
  • cpse.org
  • nfpa.org
  • fema.dhs.gov
  • dhs.fema.gov
  • st.dhs.gov
  • redcross.org
If you work at a fire department, you may be able to send an account request through FireCARES that will notify your chief or IAFF local president of your account request. request. Upon their approval, you will be provided access. Search for your department and click "Request access from your Fire Chief or Local Officer." If your fire chief or local president has registered with FireCARES for your department, then he/she will receive a notification to approve your account request.

I am having trouble logging in. What can I do?

You can reset your FireCARES password or retrieve your username. However, if you use the IMIS or Helix single-sign-on provider to login into FireCARES, you'll need to work with those respective providers to retrieve your username and/or have your password reset.

When I am on a fire department page, why are the Performance Score and Safe Grades grayed out?

While a large portion of FireCARES is completely open to the public, to see many features, you need to be logged in. To obtain a login please see How can I get an account with FireCARES? above.

Data

For a deeper explanation regarding the data in FireCARES as well as understanding the visualizations, see the latest User Guide for more information.


There are missing or incorrect stations or there is an issue regarding the composition of my department (i.e. Multiple landing pages for the same department). How do I fix this issue?

We worked very hard to capture the fire stations for all the departments in the FireCARES system, but we recognize that fire stations change over time and we may not have identified every station. Please send an email to: FireCARES Stations. Be sure to include your Fire Department Name and FDID as it is specified on FireCARES.

What if I can't find my fire department jurisdiction?

FireCARES categorizes fire departments by their respective Fire Department ID code (FDID = the ID code used for data entry into the NFIRS system). For some cities, towns, or other municipalities contained within larger County jurisdictions, the FDIDs may be similar. If you are unable to locate your fire department by entering the name of your jurisdiction in the search bar, then please search for the county containing your fire department. To find your jurisdiction, let's see if it is contained within the larger county by entering the county name in the search bar and then checking the fire station addresses contained in the county list. If your stations are contained in the county list, please go to the Contact Us page and provide us the list of your stations with complete street addresses. You will be contacted within 1 week to verify the information and assure that your area is broken out of the larger county jurisdiction.

My jurisdictional boundary is missing or incorrect. How do I update this information?

We used national data sets plus manual manipulation whenever possible to provide the best representation for jurisdictional boundaries for all departments in FireCARES. We also know that we do not have the same depth of knowledge about every community compared to those who serve that community. If you notice differences or if boundaries have changed, please send an email to: FireCARES Jurisdictions. Be sure to include your Fire Department Name and FDID as it is specified on FireCARES.

The data presented in Annual Structure Fires is Not Available or Incorrect. How do I update this information?

The data presented here primarily comes from NFIRS. Depending on your department's reporting procedures, there can exist inconsistencies between your local records and those in NFIRS. Also, NFIRS data are not yet available for the most recent two years. If you would like to update your data in the FireCARES system, please email FireCARES Data Update to determine a workflow for updating data. Be sure to include your Fire Department Name and FDID as it is specified on FireCARES.

Why are there so many structures in the Unknown group in the fire heat map when the Structure Hazard Level Distribution graph does not show as many Unknowns?

To classify the hazard level of the structure where a fire occurred, that fire needed to be geocoded and tied to a physical parcel. That parcel also needed to have information about the structure present. If the geocode of the fire location did not get linked to an actual parcel (structure) or there was insufficient information describing that parcel then that fire was classified as an N/A. In most cases, this was due to the address (geocode) of the fire placing the fire in the middle of street versus at a particular parcel address. We are continually working on improving the quality of data from your system using a new data extraction module known as NFORS CAD and we are also working to improve the geocoding, so this situation should improve over time. The better the data in the system, the more accurate the outcomes will be. To learn more about NFORS, go to www.NFORS.org.

How are the structure hazard levels determined?

The hazard levels are determined using NFPA's definition of low, medium, and high hazard structures.

  • High-Hazard Occupancies - High-rise buildings, hospitals, schools, nursing homes, explosive plants, refineries, public assembly structures, and other high life hazard or large fire potential occupancies.
  • Medium-Hazard Occupancies - Apartments, offices, mercantile and industrial occupancies that may require extensive use of fire fighting forces.
  • Low-Hazard Occupancies - One-, two- or three-family dwellings and scattered small business and industrial occupancies.

Why do other departments have districts visualized and mine does not?

We do not have fire district data for all departments. If you would like add your district data, please email FireCARES Fire Districts. Be sure to include your Fire Department Name and FDID as it is specified on FireCARES.

Can we add GIS data layers to the maps?

Yes. GIS data layers of any description may be added to the system for visualization and use in FireCARES. To add data, please select the contact us button on the website and send a message including your contact information. You will be contacted within 1 week to update the information. Suggested data sets to add to FireCARES include hydrants, building inspections, and smoke detector distributions.

How do I add response resources (apparatus and crew sizes) to the station data?

The Chief or his/her designee administrator is able to enter staffing information on the individual stations associated with your department. If you have administator permissions on your department, you will be presented with an "Add Apparatus" button on your department's station pages. Please ensure that you click "SAVE" each time you enter data. Staffing tables

Why do other departments have first-due zones visualized and mine does not?

We do not have first due area (zone) data for all departments. If you would like add your first due zones or "box alarm area" data, please email FireCARES Response Zones. Be sure to include your Fire Department Name and FDID as it is specified on FireCARES.

Can we add EMS response data to the system?

Yes. EMS response data can be added to the system. To add data, please select the contact us button on the website and send a message including your contact information. You will be contacted within 1 week to update the information.

I am a researcher. How can get access to or use the FireCARES data for my research?

First step is to fill out the Data Use Agreement and send to the contacts listed in the document. We will review your submission and contact you!

Site Usage

For a deeper explanation regarding the data in FireCARES as well as understanding the visualizations, see the latest User Guide for more information.


Why can I not see the parcel data layer in the map?

To see the parcel data in FireCARES, be sure you have un-clicked the radio button for 'Jurisdiction Boundary' in the map drop down (Top Right of the map window). Also, trying zooming in on map. Note that the data may take a minute to load.

How are the community risk scores calculated?

See more information about the FireCARES Community Risk.

How are the FireCARES Performance Scores calculated?

See more information about the FireCARES Performance Score.

How are the FireCARES SAFE GRADES calculated?

See more information about the SAFE GRADE.

Can I do individual station response area maps in the FireCARES system?

Yes. By selecting a station from the station list at the bottom of your department's page, FireCARES will take you to a map featuring that station. Then by clicking on the "stack of paper" icon in the upper right of the map, you may select "service area" and the system will calculate and display 4-minute, 6-minute- and 8-minute response map for crews responding from that station. To see each timed response, scroll over the area and each segment will be highlighted for you. Remember that all map displays may be printed for use in presentations or hard-copy reports.

Can I store department relevant reports in FireCARES?

Yes. By clicking the documents icon in the top right corner of a fire department's page, annual reports, consultant reports, data summaries, and other documents can be uploaded and stored for future reference.


How is FireCARES connected with National Fire Operations Reporting System (NFORS)?

FireCARES and NFORS are parallel projects both funded by the Department of Homeland Security/FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Grants. NFORS is a data gathering application (software) that links with a fire departments CAD or records management system (RMS) to ingest operational data directly without additional firefighter input. That data can then be analyzed with in the NFORS system for instant reports and it can be loaded into the FireCARES system for use in calculating and updating a fire department's Performance Score and Safe Grade.

Is the National Fire Operations Reporting System (NFORS) up and running?

Yes. The NFORS project was developed in parallel and is linked to the Fire Community Assessment Response Evaluation System (FireCARES) Project. The NFORS modules and reports have been designed to be user friendly, encourage accurate and timely data entry, and allow data exchange with systems like FireCARES. In fact, the first NFORS module being field tested is in conjunction with the FireCARES project.

Field testing for the first NFORS module began in September 2016. The first module is known as NFORS-CAD (Computer Aided Dispatch). This module is implemented via a fire department's CAD or RMS (Records management System) for automatic extraction of operational data for ALL TYPE responses. The NFORS-CAD may require programming modification to a local CAD to assure that the appropriate operational data elements are captured. As operational data flow from a local fire department CAD system into the NFORS-CAD Library, they are available for use in local department reporting and will also appear in the fire department's FireCARES page.

Additional modules will begin field testing soon including the NFORS Firefighter Exposure Module that links to the NFORS-CAD Module creating a response diary for individual firefighters. This NFORS Firefighter Exposure Module is being used by AFG funded grant projects for firefighter cancer surveillance.

How can my Department use NFORS data system?

Go to www.NFORS.org for details

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