Definition of terms

Accredited rescue station

A rescue unit accredited by the State Rescue Board to undertake rescue in NSW. Accreditation provides the authority for units to undertake the types of rescue operations for which they are accredited. (See Appendix for a complete list).

Area of fire origin

The area within a property where the fire originated. The area of fire origin is defined by its use at the time of the fire ignition. It may be a room or part of a room, a space, a vehicle or portion of a vehicle or some open area devoted to a specific purpose.

Arrival time

The time that each NSW Fire Brigades appliance and specialist units, including senior officers, arrived at the incident.

Community safety, preparedness (CARS)

Community safety, preparedness and engagement data is sourced from FRNSW Community Activity Reporting System (CARS) which is used to record involvement of fire stations and units in community safety programs, meetings and community engagement activities. The data currently includes operational preparedness activities performed by crews such as hydrant inspections, pre-incident plans and station drills. Some stations have also reported local media campaigns. The Grand Total also includes community engagement activities performed by specialist areas of FRNSW.

Distance travelled

The distance in kilometres from the station or dispatch point to the incident or starting point for each responding appliance or vehicle.

Duration time

The time between arrival time to the time the NSW Fire Brigades involvement in the incident is terminated.

Equipment involved in ignition

The equipment which provided the principal heat that caused ignition.

Extent of flame damage

The extent of the area burnt or charred by flame impingement.

Fires confined to object and room of origin

The extent of the area burned or charred by flame impingement being confined to the object or room of origin.  Does not include areas browned or scorched by heat.

Form of heat ignition

The form of heat energy which caused the ignition.

Form of material ignited first

The form of material ignited first by the heat source.

Hazardous materials (hazmat) incidents

A hazardous material incident is defined as any unexpected or unplanned accidental or deliberate release of a hazardous material that endangers, damages, destroys or threatens to endanger, damage or destroy the health or safety of any person, property or the environment on or beyond the incident site. This can occur during its manufacture, use, misuse, handling, transport or storage.

This new definition, introduced in 2007/08, conforms to the AFAC Hazardous Materials Working Group agreed national definition and includes:

  • a fire involving hazardous materials
  • a combustible/flammable spill/leak, excluding minor fuel or other flammable liquid spill/leak (<=200 litres), and where the combustible/flammable liquid causes or threatens to cause injury, death or damage to property and/or environment
  • an explosive (as defined in the Australian Dangerous Goods Code) event
  • other hazardous materials event, such as:
  • chemical hazard
  • explosions due to physical/engineering causes and explosions due to chemical reactions
  • radiation leak, radioactive material and radioactive contamination
  • refrigeration leak
  • hazardous fibres (asbestos, carbon)
  • unstable, reactive, explosive material
  • carbon monoxide incident
  • a biological hazard
  • any incident that would not have occurred without hazardous materials being present
  • any incident that has been significantly exacerbated by the presence of hazardous materials

Ignition factor

The circumstance which permitted the heat source and combustible material to combine and start the fire.


See Primary incident.


The number of non-firefighting persons who received injuries that are attributable to the incident or its handling.  Injuries include those that required treatment by a medical practitioner or at least one day of restricted activity immediately following the incident.

Local government area

The local government area in which the incident occurred or originated, in terms of Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Australian Standard Geographical Classification (Catalogue No 1216.0).

Major method of extinguishment

The method which had the major effect in extinguishing the fire.

Mobile property type

Property that is designed to be movable, either under its own power or towed, whether it is still movable or not.

Non-fire rescue incidents

These include incidents involving medical assistance from units not accredited to regularly provide emergency medical services (EMS), accredited units providing EMS, lock-ins, searches, extrications, rescues, electrocutions, and rescue or EMS standbys.

Operation of smoke alarms/detectors

The status, location and operation of smoke alarms or detectors in the structure involved in fire.

Percentage of property involved on arrival

The reporting officer’s estimation of the percentage of the structure involved in fire on arrival at the fire.

Percentage of property saved due to firefighting

The percentage of the property saved from fire that can be attributed to firefighting operations and salvage work carried out.

Persons evacuated

The number of persons removed from a hazardous or potentially hazardous area by the NSW Fire Brigades or by other persons or authorities.

Persons rescued

The number of persons (non-injured, injured or deceased) who were trapped, in difficulty, and so on, who were subsequently released or rescued by the NSW Fire Brigades.

Primary incident

Refers to a response by the station which submitted the incident report form. More than one station usually attends an incident however only one station submits the incident report form. The total of primary incidents equals to the total number of incidents. (See also Total responses).

These data excluded strike team deployments and some senior officer responses to natural disaster events. Figures may vary slightly from earlier publications due to completion of additional incident reports for those reference periods and changes to data from data quality improvement.

Property type

This relates to the specific property in which the incident occurred.

Basic industry, utility, defence property

Included are agriculture, forest, the extractive and mining industries, mineral products, utilities, laboratories, nuclear plants and communication facilities; and national defence sites, since they depend so heavily on communications.

Educational property

Educational properties are those used for the gathering of groups of people for purposes of instruction such as school, colleges, universities and academies. Included are part-day nursery schools kindergartens and other schools whose primary purpose is education.

Institutional property

Institutional properties are those used for purposes such as medical or other treatment, or care of persons suffering from physical or mental illness, disease, or infirmity, for the care of infants, convalescent, or aged persons; or for penal or corrective purposes. Institutional buildings ordinarily provide sleeping facilities for the occupants.

Manufacturing property

Included are properties where there is mechanical or chemical transformation of inorganic substances into new products, whether the work is performed by power driven machines or by hand, whether it is done in a factory or in the worker’s home, and whether the products are sold wholesale or retail.

Public assembly property

Place where people gather for amusement, recreation, social, religious, civic, travel and similar purposes.

Residential property

A residential property is one in which sleeping accommodation is provided for normal living purposes, and includes all buildings designed to provide sleeping accommodation except those classified as institutional property.

Shop, store, office property

Commercial or store properties include all markets and other areas, buildings, or structures for the display, sale, repair, or service of merchandise, new or used, purchased or rented.

Special property

These properties are mainly outdoor properties and are not readily classified in any of the preceding major divisions.

Storage property

Storage properties are all buildings, structures, or areas utilised primarily for the storage or sheltering of goods, merchandise, products, vehicles or animals; and incidental servicing processing and repair operations.

Safety Visits

The Safety Visits (SV) program is a prevention and early intervention initiative which will build capacity and resilience in disadvantaged and vulnerable communities in respect to home fire safety.

The program aims to support operational firefighters in the implementation of Safety Visits, providing education, advice and intervention to 'at risk' households.

This program has been developed using evidence-based information to drive down the frequency and severity of fires, reduce the economic burden of the recovery from fire and reduce fire-related casualties.

Sprinkler performance

The status and operation of sprinkler systems in the structure involved in fire.

Total turnouts

Total turnout data is sourced from FRNSW eAIRS System, and refers to the total turnouts, that is the dispatch of all individual appliances to a call out. For example, if 3 appliances from a station are called out, it is considered 3 turnouts. Primary incidents refer only to instances when stations attend an incident and are responsible for reporting it. As at least two appliances/ units usually turnout to an incident in Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong, so about twice as many responses as primary incidents are recorded.

Type of incident

The type of incident that has occurred, as determined by the reporting officer after arriving at the scene. The type of incident reported should reflect the most serious situation that occurred, whether it still existed when the first brigade/unit arrived or not.

False alarms and false calls, including:

  • bomb scares
  • detectors operating as designed, with no fire
  • local alarm system malfunctions (not monitored by fire service)
  • malicious, mischievous false alarms
  • proprietary or centrally linked alarm system malfunctions
  • unintentional alarms not involving a malfunction

Fire and explosions

This includes fires that are out on arrival and excludes cases of unauthorised burning (ie defying area or time bans) or controlled burning.

  • Building fires: include any fires damaging either or both structure and contents; fires in buildings confined to non-combustible containers (such as foodstuffs burnt, confined to cooking equipment; chimney or flue fires confined; incinerator fires confined; oil burner delayed ignition, malfunction or misuse confined; compactor fires confined to rubbish; garbage bin or waste basket fire confined to rubbish within non-combustible garbage bin).
  • Explosions not as a result of fire; include munitions or bomb explosions; blasting agent explosions; gas explosions; vapour explosions; explosions with ensuing fire.
  • Mobile property type fires: include fires in such mobile property as passenger vehicles; road transport vehicles; rail vehicles; water vessels; aircraft; campers, caravans or recreational vehicles; off-road vehicles or mobile equipment.
  • Outside rubbish fires: include fires such as abandoned outside rubbish, refuse or waste fires; garbage dump or sanitary landfill fires; construction or demolition landfill fires; dumpster or other outside garbage receptacle fires; outside stationary compactor or compacted garbage fires.
  • Outside storage fires: include outside storage fires, not rubbish; storage yards (eg timber yards, tyres).
  • Special structure fires; include pier, quay or piling fires; tunnel, underground fires; bridge, trestle, or overhead elevated structure fires; transformer, power or utility vault, utility equipment fires and power poles; fence fires; air supported structure fires or tent fires; oil refinery fires.
  • Vegetation fires: include fires in forests or woods; grass; cultivated grain or crops; cultivated orchards or vineyards; cultivated trees or nursery stock; small vegetation which can be less than one hectare.

Good intent calls, including:

  • alarm sounded – no evidence of fire
  • burglar alarm ringing
  • controlled burning
  • smoke scare odour of smoke
  • steam vapour fog or dust thought to be smoke

Hazardous condition (not a fire), including:

  • aircraft incidents, aircraft emergencies
  • combustible/flammable spills and leaks; includes petrol or other flammable liquid spills; odour of gas, gas leaks (LPG); oil or other combustible liquid spills
  • explosives
  • heat-related and electrical
  • miscellaneous hazardous situations include attempts to burn; threats to burn; buildings weakened or collapsed
  • other hazardous materials including chemical hazards (no spill or leak); chemical spills or leaks; radiation leaks, radioactive material; refrigerant leaks; asbestos incidents (no fire); unstable, reactive, explosive materials; carbon monoxide incidents

Other incident types, including:

  • call-offs
  • cover assignment
  • standbys at fire stations

Overpressure rupture (no combustion)

This includes overpressure ruptures of pipelines or pipes, boilers, and pressure vessels.

Rescue and emergency medical service, including:

  • Electrocution
  • Emergency medical services refers to a unit trained, equipped and regularly utilised for response to medical emergencies to provide basic or advanced life support.
  • Extrications/rescues; including extrications of victim(s) from mobile property; vehicle accidents without injuries; removal of victim(s) from stalled elevator/escalators; trench rescues; confined space rescues; high angle and vertical rescues; extrications of victim(s) from buildings.
  • Lock-ins.
  • Medical assistance – an incident is classified as medical assistance when a unit is called or utilised to provide emergency life support or first aid in support of, or prior to the arrival of, ambulance or medical services. That is, the unit is not accredited to regularly provide emergency medical services.
  • Rescue or emergency medical services standby.
  • Searches.
  • Water and ice-related rescues.

Service, salvage calls, including:

  • Assisting other agencies.
  • Other assists such as lockouts and animal rescues.
  • Severe weather and natural disasters.
  • Unauthorised burning.
  • Water removal.

Type of material ignited first

The composition of the material which was first ignited by the heat source.