Selected findings of the 2011 U.S. Needs Assessment Survey

  • 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.


Share your fire department’s needs, so your fire department’s
needs can be met

NFPA has conducted its 2015 U.S. Needs Assessment Survey. The U.S. Congress and U.S. Fire Administration rely on the survey results to identify gaps within the nation’s fire service. The more they know and understand your needs, the more accurately they can allocate funding to support them.

What types of questions did the survey ask?

The U.S. Needs Assessment survey worked to capture the level of resources and staffing among U.S. fire departments, and to identify how effectively they’re performing with (or without) them. Overall, the survey shows where fire departments are succeeding in meeting the needs of their communities, and where they’re struggling.

NFPA conducted the first U.S. Needs Assessment Survey in 2001, followed by surveys in 2005 and 2010, all of which were initiated by requests from the U.S. Congress.

Each of the past three surveys addressed:

  • personnel capabilities, including staffing, training, certification, and wellness/fitness
  • facilities and apparatus personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • fire prevention and code enforcement
  • the ability to handle unusually challenging incidents
  • communications and new technologies

While the 2015 survey will continue to address these issues, additional and enhanced questions have been included to cover current and emerging responsibilities, trends and challenges the fire service is facing today and will likely face in the years ahead. Such as:

  • Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) fire effecting structures
  • Air quality control program
  • Community risk reduction
  • Technical rescue
  • and more…
How can the survey be used to support your fire department’s specific needs?

The survey can be a powerful tool for fire departments working to receive the resources or funding you need. It enables you to compare your resources to those of other fire departments with comparable populations. This can be extremely helpful when showing local legislators and officials what’s typically provided to fire departments of your size/population, and where you’re fire department is deficient and needs additional resources.

NFPA is working to create reports at the regional/state level that can provide more specific data to support your local needs. We’ll provide more details about these efforts in the months ahead.