Learning from the Past, Investing in the Future: Introducing the NIRS

Mar 12, 2021 | Newsletter 2021 03 March

Learning from the Past, Investing in the Future: Introducing the NIRS

A fire is a devastating incident for a community—the loss of life and/or the loss of property is a serious and traumatic event. The National Indigenous Fire Safety Council (NIFSC) Project provides support to communities through training programs, workshops, and services, such as fire investigations, but also through the creation of the National Incident Reporting System (NIRS). The NIRS was designed to address a significant gap in fire services — the lack of fire incident data within Indigenous communities.

The NIRS is setting a new standard for data research by looking at the whole system and focusing, with precision, on fire-related incidents that impact Indigenous communities. This data does not currently exist. An Indigenous-focused program of this nature is unique and it’s the first of its kind that considers all aspects of fire prevention.

What is the NIRS?

We know that between 70–75% of all fire-related incidents take place inside the home.1 This type of data has never been captured for Indigenous communities. The NIRS is a system that gathers, stores, and analyzes fire incident data. Following the collection of incident details, the NIRS will examine the cause, origin, and circumstances of fires to identify risks and draw attention to areas of concern — including social factors such as housing conditions, age, gender, and the presence of working smoke alarms. The goal of the NIRS is to establish a fundamental understanding of the demographics related to fire incidents — the who, what, why, where, and how. Once this information is collected, then trends, or clues, begin to emerge. This paves the way for clear and targeted actions that can reduce fire-related injuries, property damage, and the loss of life impacting Indigenous communities. It supports long-term decision making to ensure that Indigenous Peoples are offered the same level of protection as others.

The NIRS is a long-term initiative. It will take time to realize the full benefits of this system. However, the more often fire incidents are reported, the more data we collect, the sooner we will begin to see trends, deficits, and risks emerging. This information is invaluable for informing fire and life safety training programs, future public education initiatives, infrastructure needs, and long-term economic planning.

The NIRS is about investing in the future and it will take time.

1: Statistics Canada. 2017. Fire Statistics in Canada, 2005 to 2014. Government of Canada.

I Submitted a Report. Now, What Happens to the Data?

The data from fire incident reporting will be used to support:

  • Fire prevention and education
  • Training for community members and fire departments
  • Investments in infrastructure such as fire alarms and fire extinguishers training and installation programs, as well as ongoing maintenance programs
  • Economic planning
  • Standardized building inspection processes
    Inspection frameworks to ensure quality and standards are met

We need Your Help!

The benefits of collecting and analyzing fire incidents will only be realised if communities contribute their data by reporting past and present incidents. This will require an ongoing commitment. If we work together, we can create a real-world understanding of fire and life safety issues in Indigenous communities. The more reports we receive, the better we’re able to identify trends and direct attention, awareness, research, and funding where it’s needed most. We are excited that this system is up and running and are looking forward to working with communities to gather the information needed to make positive changes!