New fire services statistic based on 112 alarm centre

© Jacqueline de Haas
On 29 September 2016, Statistics Netherlands (CBS) introduced a new fire services statistic. The statistic is no longer based on survey data from questionnaires but on records from the 112 emergency alarm centre. Statistical researcher Marjolijn Trijssenaar: ‘It means less work for the fire service department and we will not miss out on any more alarms.’ Project leader Marc Vlemmings: ‘Figures can also be reported more frequently and in more detail.’

Published quarterly

New Year’s Eve, autumn storms, these are the types of events you will always see reflected in fire services statistics. These contain registrations of the number of fires, number of reports, the time it takes for fire brigades to get to the scene, etc. As of 29 September, fire service statistics are compiled on the basis of alarm centre records and appear quarterly. Trijssenaar: ‘This first publication was over reporting years 2013 and 2014. From 2016 onwards, all figures are published quarterly over the previous quarter.’

Less work for fire department

The use of register data has many advantages. ‘We used to expect the fire department to fill out a questionnaire after every call-out. This was a lot of work, and they did not always get around to it. Now, we automatically receive control room data from all 25 safety regions in the Netherlands through the Meldkamer Diensten Centrum (the central alarm centre) in Driebergen. This process runs via our Directorate for Data collection. After that, the data is processed automatically by our Security and Justice Team ’, explains Trijssenaar. Of course, this is not as simple as it seems. Vlemmings: ‘For this, we contacted all 25 safety regions, analysed their records to get the definitions right, and filtered out the details from their data. The entire process was then streamlined here at CBS. Quite a daunting task, and it took us over one year.’

More and more details

The new statistic provides a lot more details than the old one. For example, data is now available on the number of alarms which are dealt with in the control room. The statistic shows how often fire services actually arrive at the scene after a call. ‘In the future we will be able to provide even more detail’, says Trijssenaar. ‘The datasets are very rich. We would like to explore them together with the Dutch fire services.’

High level of interest

The new fire services statistics have sparked the interest of the authorities, according to Trijssenaar. ‘Especially the regional fire departments themselves. They use our data to see whether their policies are effective, for instance. The fire department is trying to avoid unnecessary call-outs for automatic fire alarms, for example, by placing a phone call after such an alarm. Our statistics can demonstrate that this policy is effective.’ Vlemmings adds: ‘CBS plans to make data related to this fire services statistic available in the future via open data to all 25 safety regions in the Netherlands, so they can make their own analyses.’