The Needs of the Fire Service

From NFPA President James M. Shannon:

Jim Shannon

In June, NFPA released the third needs assessment of the U.S. fire service, following up on previous needs assessments we completed and released in 2002 and 2006.

After the terrorist attacks by Al-Qaeda in 2001, there was, at all levels of government, a new focus on improving the capabilities of America’s emergency responders.

By the time of the attacks, NFPA had already undertaken the first needs assessment with funding from the U.S. Fire Administration. So the conclusions of that study were timely for policy makers looking for benchmarks for fire departments in the immediate wake of 9/11.

Since then, the federal government has instituted the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program to help departments meet some of their most pressing needs.

Read more in the July/August issue of NFPA Journal®.

NFPA reports find improvement but continued needs for America's fire departments

NFPA has conducted a series of national surveys to identify the needs of the fire service for resources required to safely and effectively carry out their responsibilities. The surveys indicated the resources fire departments had, while NFPA codes and standards and other national guidance documents defined the requirements. The gaps between resources in hand and resources required defined the needs. 

These reports look at personnel and their capabilities, including staffing, training, certification, and wellness/fitness; facilities and apparatus; personal protective equipment; fire prevention and code enforcement; the ability to handle unusually challenging incidents; and communications and new technologies.

All three studies began with requests from Congress, and the first two studies were conducted with and sponsored by the U.S. Fire Administration and its parent agencies. 

2011 
A Third Needs Assessment of the U.S. Fire Service (PDF, 1 MB)
Errata incorporated August 22, 2011. (PDF, 12 KB)
Updated study examining the needs of the U.S. fire service in such areas as training, certification, personnel, apparatus, equipment, and fire prevention, with particular attention to homeland security type incidents.

Selected findings of the 2011 Needs Assessment

  • Nearly half (46%) of all fire departments that are responsible for structural firefighting have not formally trained all their personnel involved in structural firefighting, down from 55% in 2001 and 53% in 2005.

  • Seven out of ten (70%) fire departments have no program to maintain basic firefighter fitness and health, down from 80% in 2001 and 76% in 2005.

  • Nearly half (46%) of all fire department engines and pumpers were at least 15 years old, down from 51% in 2001 and 50% in 2005. Half (51%) of all fire departments cannot equip all firefighters on a shift with self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), down from 70% in 2001 and 60% in 2005.

  • Two out of five (39%) fire departments do not have enough personal alert safety system devices (PASS) to equip all emergency responders on a shift, down from 62% in 2001 and 48% in 2005.

Download a Powerpoint presentation on the Needs Assessment report. (ppt, 336 KB) 

State-by-state reports

 

The following are state-level reports based on the findings in each of NFPA's needs assessment reports.

Alabama 
2004 2007 2011
2011 fact sheet 

Alaska  
2004  2007 2011
2011 fact sheet 

Arizona 
2004  2007 2011 
2011 fact sheet 

Arkansas  
2004  2007  2011
2011 fact sheet 

California
2004  2007  2011 
2011 fact sheet   

Colorado
2004  2007  2011
2011 fact sheet 

Connecticut
2004  2007 2011
2011 fact sheet 

Delaware 
2004  2007 2011
2011 fact sheet 

Florida 
2004  2007 2011
2011 fact sheet 

Georgia 
2004  2007  2011
2011 fact sheet 

Hawaii 
2004  2007 2011
2011 fact sheet 

Idaho 
2004  2007 2011
2011 fact sheet 

Illinois 
2004  2007 2011
2011 fact sheet 

Indiana 
2004  2007 2011
2011 fact sheet 

Iowa 
2004  2007 2011
2011 fact sheet 

Kansas**
2004  2007 2011
2011 fact sheet 

Kentucky 
2004  2007 2011
2011 fact sheet 

Louisiana 
2004  2007 2011
2011 fact sheet 

Maine**
2004  2007 2011
2011 fact sheet 

Maryland 
2004 2007 2011
2011 fact sheet 

Massachusetts 
2004 2007  2011
2011 fact sheet 

Michigan 
2004  2007  2011
2011 fact sheet 

Minnesota 
2004  2007  2011
2011 fact sheet 

Mississippi 
2004  2007  2011
2011 fact sheet 

Missouri 
2004  2007  2011
2011 fact sheet 

Montana 
2004  2007  2011
2011 fact sheet 

Nebraska 
2004  2007  2011
2011 fact sheet 

Nevada** 
2004  2007  2011
2011 fact sheet 

New Hampshire
2004  2007  2011
2011 fact sheet 

New Jersey 
2004  2007  2011
2011 fact sheet 

New Mexico 
2004  2007  2011
2011 fact sheet 

New York
2004  2007  2011
2011 fact sheet 

North Carolina
2004  2007  2011
2011 fact sheet 

North Dakota 
2004  2007  2011
2011 fact sheet 

Ohio 
2004  2007  2011
2011 fact sheet 

Oklahoma 
2004  2007  2011
2011 fact sheet 

Oregon 
2004  2007  2011
2011 fact sheet

Pennsylvania 
2004  2007  2011
2011 fact sheet 

Rhode Island 
2004  2007  2011
2011 fact sheet 

South Carolina 
2004  2007  2011
2011 fact sheet 

South Dakota
2004  2007  2011
2011 fact sheet 

Tennessee
2004  2007  2011
2011 fact sheet 

Texas
2004  2007  2011
2011 fact sheet 

Utah
2004  2007  2011
2011 fact sheet 

Vermont
2004  2007  2011
2011 fact sheet 

Virginia 
2004  2007  2011
2011 fact sheet 

Washington
2004  2007  2011
2011 fact sheet 

West Virginia* 
2004  2007  2011
2011 fact sheet 

Wisconsin 
2004  2007  2011
2011 fact sheet 

Wyoming 
2004  2007  2011
2011 fact sheet 

*Erratas issued February 23, 2012 for West Virginia report (PDF, 79 KB) and fact sheet (PDF, 74 KB).
**Erratas issued April 19, 2011 for Kansas 2004 report (PDF, 12 KB), Maine 2004 report (PDF, 12 KB) and Nevada 2004 report (PDF, 12 KB).


2006
Four Years Later – A Second Needs Assessment of the U.S.Fire Service (PDF, 4 MB)
Department of Homeland Security, USFA, and NFPA, October 2006. 159 pages
Updated assessment of needs of U.S. fire service in such areas as training, certification, personnel, apparatus, equipment, and fire prevention, with particular attention to homeland security type incidents.
Also see: Download an errata for this report. (PDF, 16 KB)  

Matching Assistance to Firefighters Grants to the Reported Needs of the U.S.Fire Service (PDF, 2 MB)
Department of Homeland Security, USFA, and NFPA, October 2006. 41 pages
Analysis of whether grants requested and received have addressed reported needs, by type of need, and whether popular types of grants have resulted in significant change in the overall national level of need.

2002
A Needs Assessment of the U.S. Fire Service (PDF, 1 MB)
FEMA, USFA, and NFPA, December 2002. 160 pages
A comprehensive study done by FEMA, USFA and NFPA examining the needs and response capabilities of the U.S. fire service. Among the factors examined are personnel and their capabilities; fire prevention and code enforcement; stations, apparatus and equipment; and the ability to handle unusually challenging incidents. Results are reported by nationwide and community size.

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