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Needs assessment of U.S. Fire Service

Fourth Needs Assessment report shows that while some fire service needs have been declining, many have remained constant or increased

Report: NFPA's "Fourth Needs Assessment of the U.S. Fire Service"
Issued: November 2016

This fourth Fire Service Needs Assessment Survey was conducted by NFPA in 2015 and follows three earlier surveys, which were completed in 2001, 2005 and 2010. Overall, 19.4% of the U.S. fire departments responded, with the strongest response rates among departments protecting communities with populations greater than 10,000 (i.e. greater than 40% of all known local fire departments in the United States).

This report shows that while some fire service needs have been declining, many have remained constant or increased. Fire service needs are extensive for departments of all sizes and in every area, including staffing, training, facilities, apparatus, personal protective equipment (PPE); and health and wellness. Overall, the smaller the community protected, the greater the need. 

 

Report highlights 
  • Forty-nine percent of all fire departments in 2015 have not formally trained all of their personnel involved in structural firefighting, up from 46 percent in 2010.
  • The greatest need for training in large fire departments protecting populations greater than 500,000 is in fire prevention and code enforcement.
  • The greatest need for training in smaller fire departments protecting populations less than 2,500 is traffic control and wildland firefighting.
  • Two-thirds (69 percent) of departments reported that some of the SCBA equipment was at least 10 years old, up from 55 percent in 2010.
  • More than two-third (72 percent) of departments reported that some of their PPE clothing was a least 10 years old.
  • Two out of five (43 percent) fire stations are at least 40 years old, up from 32 percent in 2001.
  • There is an increasing need for additional stations in both the largest and smallest communities.
  • Forty-three percent of all fire department engines and pumpers were at least 15 years old, down from 51 percent in 2001.
  • One out of five (20%) fire departments have a behavioral health program.
  • One quarter (27%) of fire departments have a basic firefighter fitness and health program.
More reports
State fact sheets

Get a look at a state-by-state needs assessment by downloading our fact sheets. Click any state below to get a link to the fact sheet.