National Fire Database Project Seeks To Improve Fire Safety: CAFC

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August 8, 2011 – A cheque for $149,500 was presented to the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) on
August 8, 2011, kicking off research into a national database that could lead to fewer
fires and more effective and efficient fire-service delivery across the country.

“This is a great example of the way faculty members at UFV and community partners are
bringing teaching, research and service together in meaningful and productive ways,”
said UFV president Dr. Mark Evered. “We are delighted to be working with the
Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs on a project that will lead to safer communities
across Canada.”

UFV will conduct the research on behalf of the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs
(CAFC) to explore the development of a web-based database of fire statistics that would
be available to fire departments and organizations across Canada. Funding for this
project was provided through the Canadian Police Research Centre (CPRC), a
Government of Canada program administered by the Defence Research & Development
Canada (DRDC) – Centre for Security Science (CSS).

“We’re thankful for the opportunity to pursue a project we see as being essential to
enhancing the operational effectiveness of Canadian fire services,” said CAFC President
Rob Simonds. “By collecting and analyzing fire data, the database will provide fire
services the information they need to effectively target their resources, operate more
efficiently and increase their fire prevention capacity. Ultimately, that means safer

As examples, data collected through the database could be used by fire departments to
strategically deploy resources, or to amend buildings codes in response to fire trends.

CPRC Executive Director Steve Palmer said the project is a good fit with the DRDC-
CSS’s mandate, in that the data gathered will help Canadian fire services prevent fires
and spare Canadians from their devastating effects.

“We recognize the tremendous value in the development of a national fire incident
capability as it will generate an evidence-based approach for decision-making, which will
help improve the efficiency and effectiveness of fire services,” Palmer said.

“At the end of the day, this project will help the responder community save lives, reduce
injuries and work more efficiently, and have tools they can use to help plan their future.”

Beginning this summer, the year-long project will outline the scope for a national system,
including types of data to be collected, hardware and software, partner roles and
contributions, funding sources, and resources required to set up and maintain the

The research will include consultation with fire services across the country, review of
international best practices, and investigation of existing Canadian data management
systems, such as FDM software and the Canadian Police Information Centre.

Heading up the project for the CAFC is Len Garis, Fire Chief for the City of Surrey and
President of the Fire Chiefs’ Association of B.C. Research for the project will be
conducted by Dr. Darryl Plecas, Director of the Centre for Criminal Justice Research in
UFV’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, and by Dr. Paul Maxim, Associate
Vice-President of Research at Wilfrid Laurier University.

“Evidence-based decision-making allows professionals to be more effective in the
service they provide, but also the hard data helps convince the government or general
public about the need for funding,” Maxim noted. “You want to make sure what you’re
doing is providing the best value for the taxpayer dollar. You want maximum impact.”

A key focus of the research will be ensuring the proposed database will meet the needs
of Canadian fire services.

“At the end of the day, if the individual departments and regions aren’t behind this, it’s
not going to work,” Maxim said. “We’re hoping to do a major consultation across the
country to try to gauge the amount of buy-in, what they are hoping to get out of it, and
what is the gap between what they have now and what they would like. Obviously not
everyone’s ideal can be met. But we’re looking to close that gap.”

Information and updates about the National Fire Incident Database research project,
including consultation sessions, will be posted on the Canadian Association of Fire
Chiefs website,

The Canadian Police Research Centre (CPRC) is a Government of Canada program
whose mission is to harness science and technology (S&T) knowledge to strengthen
police, fire and emergency medical services across Canada through investments in
research, development of standards, product evaluation and technology transfer. CPRC
is managed by the Defence Research and Development Canada – Centre for Security
Science, a joint endeavour between the Department of National Defence and Public
Safety Canada to strengthen, through investments in S&T, Canada’s ability to prevent,
prepare for, respond to, and recover from accidents, natural disasters, or terrorist and
criminal acts that impact the safety and security of Canadians.