Six fire departments join new National Emergency Response Information System

March 19, 2024

Launch of NERIS aims to enhance emergency services’ preparedness and response

The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) recently unveiled the prototype version of the National Emergency Response Information System (NERIS), a cutting-edge, interoperable fire information and analytics platform designed for the American fire and emergency services.

Announced on March 12, 2024, NERIS is set to revolutionise how local fire and emergency services communities access near real-time information and analytic tools.

This initiative is expected to significantly improve data-informed decision-making processes, enhancing preparedness and responses to various emergencies, including fires, motor vehicle crashes, medical emergencies, and hazardous materials spills.

Six local fire departments have already been integrated into NERIS, starting to report local emergency incident information through the new system.

“The launch of the prototype NERIS and successful onboarding and use by these initial six fire departments represents a major step forward for USFA to fulfil our mission to equip the local fire and emergency services community with a modernised and easy-to-use solution to report critical incident information and provide them access to actionable intelligence,” said Dr.

Lori Moore-Merrell, U.S. Fire Administrator.

Early adopters of NERIS

The first fire departments to join the prototype version of NERIS include Fairfax County Fire and Rescue, Virginia; Frisco Fire Department, Texas; Orange County Fire Authority, California; Springdale Fire Department, Arkansas; Upper Merion Township Fire & EMS Department, Pennsylvania; and West Metro Fire Rescue, Colorado.

These departments are at the forefront of testing and evaluating NERIS, contributing to the future development of the full production version slated for release in fall 2024.

“Our use of the prototype NERIS in this test phase has been a resounding success, and we’re eager to increase use across Fairfax County Fire and Rescue,” said Chief John Butler, Fire Chief of Fairfax County and President of the International Association of Fire Chiefs.

“As with any new technology roll-out, expanding the use of NERIS across all 39 fire stations within our department requires implementation planning, which we’re getting started with now.”

Enhancing emergency response with advanced technology

NERIS utilises the latest geographic information system (GIS) technology, interoperable data standards, and advanced analytic capabilities to provide location-enabled decision support to local fire departments across the nation.

By integrating data from multiple federal datasets, local computer-aided dispatch (CAD) systems, local records management systems (RMS), and other authoritative sources, NERIS aims to inform community risks, including vulnerable populations and climate hazards.

The platform is set to replace the legacy National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS), with the transition process ensuring that all fire and emergency services departments continue to use NFIRS until they are onboarded onto NERIS.

This initiative reflects the USFA’s commitment to mitigating fire-related problems, reducing loss of life and property, and educating the public on fire prevention and protection under the Federal Fire Prevention and Control Act of 1974.

NERIS is provided to local fire departments at no cost, developed through a partnership between USFA and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), supported by a contract awarded to the Fire Safety Research Institute (FSRI), a part of UL Research Institutes.

FSJA Comment

This innovative platform promises to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of emergency response teams by providing them with access to real-time information and analytics.

The collaboration of the initial six fire departments in the prototype phase demonstrates the system’s potential and sets a positive precedent for nationwide adoption.

As NERIS continues to evolve and expand, its role in shaping future emergency response strategies will undoubtedly be critical.

The integration of advanced technologies and data analytics into public safety operations is a forward-looking approach that could significantly reduce emergency response times, improve resource allocation, and ultimately save lives.

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