Journal of Community Health

, Volume 33, Issue 2, pp 103–109 | Cite as

The Implementation and Utility of Fire Incident Reporting Systems: The Delaware Experience

  • Gwendolyn Bergen
  • Shannon Frattaroli
  • Michael F. Ballesteros
  • Van M. Ta
  • Crystal Beach
  • Andrea C. Gielen
Original Paper


Fires and burns are the fifth most common cause of unintentional injury deaths in the United States. To address fires and fire deaths, the National Fire Data Center (NFDC) established the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) as a surveillance system for fires. Delaware implemented NFIRS as the Delaware Fire Incident Reporting System (DFIRS), and is currently capturing all fires reported in the system. The objectives of this study are to: 1) understand the implementation of DFIRS; 2) analyze data from DFIRS to describe fire incidents; and 3) inform other states’ fire surveillance efforts. We interviewed Delaware State Fire Marshal’s Office personnel to understand the implementation of DFIRS and analyzed DFIRS data from May 2003 to December 2004 to examine data completeness, and characteristics of fires, smoke alarms, and fire injuries and deaths. DFIRS captures 100% of Delaware fires reported to fire departments. Data completeness for the fields examined ranged from 33% to 100%. Fires in which smoke alarms alerted occupants were significantly less likely to result in injury or death than fires in which smoke alarms did not. DFIRS has the potential to serve as a valuable fire prevention and fire analysis tool. For DFIRS to reach its full potential as a surveillance system, increased attention to data completeness is necessary.


Fire prevention Surveillance Injury Data quality 



This research was supported by a grant to the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Grant #R49CCR302486. The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This research received IRB approval from the Johns Hopkins Committee on Human Research.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gwendolyn Bergen
    • 1
  • Shannon Frattaroli
    • 2
  • Michael F. Ballesteros
    • 3
  • Van M. Ta
    • 4
  • Crystal Beach
    • 5
  • Andrea C. Gielen
    • 2
  1. 1.National Center for Health StatisticsHyattsvilleUSA
  2. 2.Center for Injury Research and Policy, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthBaltimoreUSA
  3. 3.National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and PreventionAtlantaUSA
  4. 4.Department of Public Health SciencesUniversity of Hawaii at MonoaHonoluluUSA
  5. 5.Delaware State Fire Marshal’s OfficeDoverUSA

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