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Nebraska State Fire Marshal

Christopher Cantrell, State Fire Marshal

Coding Questions


How do I code standing by at the racetrack or other event? Do I need to do just one report for the entire time or do I do a separate report for each time we go onto the track?

If the department does nothing while at the scene, only one report needs to be completed. However, if the department is called on to the tracks for a fire or EMS, a report will need to be completed each time.


We were having a training structure burn when the fire got away from us and started a grass fire. Do I need to do a report on the grass fire? Would the grass fire be considered an exposure of the structure fire?

Departments should not report training burns in NFIRS so the grass fire would not be an exposure. It is the department’s call whether to report the grass fire or not.


The fire department responded to a motor vehicle accident with reported injuries but none exist after evaluation. How would this be coded?

It could be coded 463 “Vehicle Accident, General Cleanup” or as a good intent call depending on the situation. Action Taken would reflect what was done and could include checking for injuries (31), removing hazard (45) and/or investigation (86). (Source:


If a vehicle burned inside the garage, would it be considered an exposure fire?

No, if the vehicle is inside a structure it is considered part of the structure. However, if the vehicle was parked in the driveway and the garage fire spread to the vehicle then it would be an exposure fire and an additional report would be completed on the vehicle.


A vehicle catches fire on a parking ramp. Two other vehicles catch fire from the first vehicle. Are these two vehicles considered an exposure fire or should I “treat” similar items in a group as a single exposure”, such as a fleet of cars, as stated in the NFIRS Version 5.0 manual?

This situation calls fro some judgment. If the cars on the ramp are in a general parking facility and they each have separate individual owners, treat each as a separate vehicle fire exposure. If, instead, a fleet of vehicles is involved and they all have the same corporate owner then they may all be treated as a single exposure. (Source:


A firefighter is injured on the job (e.g., training exercise) but not at an incident. Would this be reported?

Yes, an incident should be created for all firefighter casualties, whether or not they occur at an incident, and would be shown in Block H1, Casualties. The Incident Type would probably be 321. (Source:


How should we report tornadoes, wind storms, etc?

You would use Incident Type 813 and enter the three primary Actions Taken. For incidents where the majority of damage occurs in a town only one incident report is necessary to cover all the damage. You may want to attach a separate piece of paper or enter in the Comments fields a breakdown of the property owners affected. Where a tornado touches down in several different locations in rural areas, a separate report should be done on each touch down.


How would I code a fire that started in a fireplace?

If you respond to a chimney fire and the fire spread beyond the chimney, the Incident Type would be 111 and the Fire and Structure Fire Modules are completed in addition to the Basic Module. Code the room the chimney is located in as the Area of Origin. The Item First Ignited would probably be Creosote 95. The Heat Source could be coded 43 or 60. If the fire was contained to the chimney the Incident Type is 114 and only the Basic Module is required but the Fire and Structure Fire Module may be completed. 


If a fire occurs and there is heat or smoke damage to an exposed property, should that be reported using an exposure report?

No. A fire resulting from another fire outside that building, structure, or vehicle, or a fire that extends to an outside property from a building, structure, or vehicle is considered an exposure. If the structure only had heat, smoke or damage from suppression activities, then it would not be considered an exposure and would not require an exposure report. The damage would be reported on the base incident (000) report. The persons involved can be reported using Section K1, Person/Entity Involved.

Note: Charring is considered to be fire and would require an exposure report. For Example: a) If the building fire ignites a truck parked outside, the truck fire would be considered an exposure fire. B) The truck would not be considered an exposure if it did not burn but only sustained radiant heat damage to the vehicle. The data regarding the vehicle would then be reported as part of the base (000) incident. (Source:


We had a rescue call for a person with difficulty breathing. The patient had a history of emphysema and was on home oxygen all the time. Two days before this call someone saw the patient lighting a cigarette (with oxygen on) and saw a woof of flames come out of the stoma. No medical attention was sought until two days later when the patient experienced difficulty breathing. Upon arrival at the ER, the patient's condition became worse and died. The ER physician stated the cause of death was complications from burns to his trachea, with a secondary cause of emphysema. Is this a fire death? If so, how do I report it since we were not called to the "initial" incident. What kind of fire would this be?

This is a fire death but not one that can be reported in NFIRS. It will eventually be cataloged as aifre death in the NCHS mortality database based on the death certificate but, since it was an unreported fire that no fire department ever responded to, it will not be captured in NFIRS as a fire incident. In NFIRS this is an EMS response.


Someone threw fireworks into a house and this was reported to the fire department as a residential structure fire. The fireworks self-extinguished and the shift personnel had only light smoke to deal with. There were 4-5 burn marks on the floor of the kitchen. On the investigation side this would be considered Arson. Should this incident be coded as a structure fire (111)? The shift personnel coded it as a Smoke Scare, Odor of smoke 651).

Actually, neither one is correct. The incident should be coded as Incident Type 481, Attempt to burn. It is not a fire. With NFIRS 5.0 there are much more codes to choose from than before. In the old reporting system, it would probably have been reported as either a structure fire or smoke scare. Now, we need to go through the codes more carefully to make sure there isn’t one that better fits the situation, as was the case with this situation.


Heat from a fire did excessive melting of aluminum siding on an adjacent house. The adjacent house sustained major dollar loss. Is this an exposure? And if so, what is the incident type?

The use of the exposure fire is limited to situations where there is fire damage. If the adjacent property is damaged due to water, heat, smoke, or fire control, include the damage in the main report (Exposure 000). Multiple person and entities involved can be documented on the basic report. The count of building involved is documented in the Fire Module in Section B2. (Source:


Are there any guidelines for estimating structure fire losses?

Dollar loss is your best estimate of the damage caused by the fire. Replacement cost should also be considered. The International Code Council developed a table to use in determining building values. Use this information at your own discretion.


Basic Module

What do I enter in the State field if the Person/Entity Involved and/or Owner live outside the United States?

Use the code OO (two letter O’s – not zeroes) for the state field and then enter the country with the city in the city field. In January 2005 a new state code was added: NA for Native American Tribal Authority. This code should be used for any incident on land controlled by Native American Tribal Authorities.


In Section D on the Basic Module, a field asks for Their FDID and Incident Number. What is supposed to be entered here? Where do I get the FDID number for other fire departments?

Every known fire department in the state has been assigned a FDID (fire department identification) number. A list of these numbers is available under Lists / Publications-NEFIRS-Miscellaneous. Although these fields are optional it provides a cross reference for us so we can find all reports related to a particular incident. We ask that you at least complete the FDID number of the department which you gave mutual aid. Please be sure to use our assigned FDID number and do not make up your own code. If you can obtain the Incident Number from the other department please enter it otherwise leave the field blank. We know it is not always possible to obtain this information. If you are using software you should receive a warning because this field is blank.


Who should be included in the casualty count for Block H1, Casualties?

The total listed in the Fire Service Casualty fields includes all injuries or deaths related to any type of incident. There may be more Fire Service Casualty reports completed than the total listed in Block H1 because Fire Service Casualty Reports can also be used to record the exposure of firefighters to hazardous materials or infectious diseases at the incident. Recording a code 1 in Block G3 of the Fire Service Casualty Module indicates such exposures that do not immediately cause an injury or death.

The total civilian casualties include fire-related injuries and deaths only, and does not include injuries or deaths due to EMS, hazardous materials incidents or other incident types. (Source:


Where do I find the census tract for my area?

This field is optional although the information is useful at the federal level. Census tract information can be found at the US Census Bureau website


Fire Module

Why can Mobile Property Type and Equipment Involved in Ignition not both be reported for the same incident? I got an error because I completed both fields for an incident that involved a car running into an air conditioner.

The Data Entry Tool will allow entry of both Mobile Property Type and Equipment Involved in Ignition for the same incident. The way mobile property is treated in the NFIRS system is as a special type of equipment. When a vehicle is involved in the ignition, rather than completing the Equipment Involved fields, specific fields designed just to capture vehicle information are completed instead. So, you can never have Equipment Involved in Ignition and Mobile Property Involved in Ignition on the same incident. Since only one type of equipment can be involved in the ignition of the fire, they are mutually exclusive. (Source:


Structure Fire Module

On Structure Fire Module, Block I3 Building Height – Should mechanical or enclosed attic spaces be counted as separate story or as part of the highest story?

Only count as separate story if they have normal access (stairs or doors) and are at least standing height. Inaccessible attics, attics with less than standing height, inaccessible mechanical spaces or the roof would normally be part of the highest story. (Source:


When coding the square footage of an apartment building fire, should I enter the footage for just the apartment involved or the entire building (two-story)?

Enter the length and width of the floor where the fire occurred. (Source:


Civilian Casualty Module

Fire Service Casualty Module

EMS Module


Wildland Module

What do I enter for the Federal Agency Number on the Wildland Module?

This information was omitted from your handbooks and possibly from your software. This was corrected in the latest release of both the software and the handbook (CRG).


Haz Mat Module


Arson Module

Coding Questions (this link will take you to the FEMA NFIRS website where commonly asked coding questions are answered).