Thread: Statistics

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    Does anyone know of where I could find national averages on fire investigation statistics (i.e. number/percentage of accidental, incendiary fires)? I am compling fire investigation statistics for my department and I wanted to know how we compare to other departments and nationally.

    Thanks in advance.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ASP2008 View Post
    Does anyone know of where I could find national averages on fire investigation statistics (i.e. number/percentage of accidental, incendiary fires)? I am compling fire investigation statistics for my department and I wanted to know how we compare to other departments and nationally.

    Thanks in advance.
    DHS/USFA has data that is compiled from NFIRS. Its normally one or two years old by the time they publish their data. It excludes data not reported via NFIRS.
    In my state many small volunteer departments still use in house generate fire report forms. Their data is never forwarded or is rejected by the state because its not submitted in the correct format.

    You may be able to check with you state fire marshall or insurance commisioners office to get data.
    Last edited by cubbie; 10-18-2008 at 10:28 PM.

    When fire is cried and danger is neigh,
    "God and the firemen" is the people's cry;
    But when 'tis out and all things righted,
    God is forgotten and the firemen slighted.
    ~Author unknown, from The Fireman's Journal, 18 Oct 1879

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    I participated inthe ICAC National Arson Forum several years ago. The work group I was in was the group dealing with statistics. We determined that one of the major weaknesses in the field of fire investigation is the lack of accurate, reliable statistics.

    There are a couple of major reasons for this. First off, there is no universal reporting format. This is largely due to the varied interests of the groups involved. For example, a FD may respond to a house fire and report the cause of that fire as undetermined and the damages at $100,000. The PD Arson Squad goes to the same fire the next day and reports it as an electrical fire and, after speaking to the ins. investigator at the scene, reports the damage at $200,000. The ins. co. brings in a bunch of experts and reports the fire to be incendiary. They deny coverage, making the value of the loss effectively $0. You see the dillema; same fire, 3 different reported results.

    Here are four main places to look on a national level;

    1. USFA-reports fire statistics as provided to them by a relatively small percentage of FD's. No extrapolation.

    2. NFPA-reports fire statistics as provided by an even smaller percentage of FD's. However, they use specialists to extrapolate the numbers to give a different picture.

    3. FBI-reports fires that are listed only as incendiary. Numbers are from a high percentage of PD's. But remember, these are only the fires reported to be incendiary.

    4. PILR-reports on fires (among a whole lot of other things pertaining to P&C insurance) investigated by their member cos.

    As you can see, the numbers have severe limitations and are going to be very unreliable. The same will be found at the State level.

    By all means research the numbers as thoroughly as you can. Just remember to take the various limitations and prejudices into account before you draw any hard conclusions.
    PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

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