Fairfax, VA – The International Association of Fire Chiefs is partnering with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) to conduct a national fire station survey. The information obtained from this survey will be used for homeland security planning and response.
Explore Information Services and Techni Graphics Systems (TGS) are working under contract with the NGA. In April, the IAFC issued an alert to members recommending they not complete a survey that was issued by Explore Information Services until security of the information and other questions could be verified.
“After contacting the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), we met with NGA and DHS officials. The IAFC is satisfied that the results of the reissued survey will be utilized appropriately and received assurances that the security will be maintained,” said Garry Briese, IAFC executive director. “Because the operational security for the fire service is of the utmost importance to NGA and the IAFC, we are taking an active role in the development of this survey,” said Briese. The IAFC also is reviewing the criteria for use of the survey results to ensure that the information gathered is maintained securely.
The survey results will be combined with other critical geospatial information initially for the use of federal government agencies, such as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The information will not be sold to the general public. The IAFC, NGA and DHS are working together to explore ways that the information can be made available to state and local responders.
The IAFC is working with Explore Information Services to redevelop the survey so that information gathered will be useful at the local level. “The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is working hard to achieve further integration to provide the database to state and local agencies,” Briese said.
The survey will be redistributed to fire departments in the coming months; the IAFC will inform members when the survey is released. The IAFC encourages all fire chiefs to participate in the survey when it is distributed so that the database will be accurate.
Before the IAFC became involved, Explore Information Services had already distributed a version of the survey to fire departments in the following states: Wisconsin, Ohio, Colorado, Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska and Missouri. The original survey has been discarded, and fire chiefs who returned the original survey should fill out and return the new, IAFC-supported version when it is distributed in the coming months.