USFA Enters the Second Phase of the National Fire Department Census

Emmitsburg, MD – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the United States Fire Administration (USFA) have initiated the second phase of the National Fire Department Census.

The first phase of the National Fire Department Census was conducted from October 2001 through the spring of 2002. This effort resulted in approximately 16,000 fire departments being registered with the census. These departments represent approximately one half of the fire departments estimated to be operating in the United States. The initial census database of respondents is expected to be posted to the USFA’s web site by the end of November 2002. The data posted will include: department name, address, web address (if applicable), organization type (i.e., federal, state, local, etc.) and department type (i.e., career, volunteer, paid per call).

In September 2002, the current census database was compared to the applications from fire departments applying to the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program. Grant applicants not found to be registered with the census were recently contacted and encouraged to complete the census form. Due to variations in how a department’s name or address was listed, it is possible that this second mailing includes some duplication.

“Some fire departments that registered during the initial census may have received a second mailing of the census form. Slight differences in how a department registered its name or address have caused the department to appear as two separate entities,” said USFA Deputy Administrator, Charlie Dickinson. “Any department believing they received this recent mailing in error is asked to contact the USFA to quickly and easily resolve any confusion.”

There are two main reasons why a fire department may have received a second census form:
* As an example, the Centerville Fire and Rescue Company in the census may have applied for a grant under the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program as the Centerville Volunteer Fire Department.
* Additionally, a fire department address may be listed as a post office box in one database and listed with a street address in another database.

There may also be some confusion between the National Fire Department Census and the Fire Service Needs Assessment Survey. Separate and distinct from the National Fire Department Census, earlier this year the USFA conducted a Fire Service Needs Assessment Survey in conjunction with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) to define the current role and activities associated with the fire services; determine the adequacy of current levels of funding; and provide an assessment to identify shortfalls. The results of this survey are anticipated to be published by the end of the calendar year.

“The purpose of the census is to create a national database for use by FEMA and the USFA; our colleagues in the fire protection and prevention communities; allied professions and the general public. This census database will be used to conduct special projects to guide program decision-making and to enhance our direct communication with individual fire departments. The National Fire Department Census is a critical effort to better serve the fire services of this nation and the Americans we serve. It is important that those fire departments who have not participated in the census do so,” said Dickinson.

For more information about the USFA National Fire Department Census, or if you have received duplicate forms, please contact Gayle Weant-Kelch at

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