Fire Marshal’s Update – May 2019

Greetings from the thirteenth floor. April showers brings May flowers, pollen, allergy, leaves, and some areas of our state flooding. I appreciate this time of year because it is a time of change. Something old becomes new again.

Judy and I enjoyed our time with many of you during the annual FFAM convention recently held in Sedalia. The convention committee knocked it out of the park. They showed team work, works! We are looking forward to attending next year’s convention in Kearney.

The 100th General Assembly session will end May 17th, so the next two weeks will be very busy within the capitol. We have been busy working on our budget and other bills. One item we are watching again is the funding for the Volunteer Fire Protection Association Workers Comp grant legislation. If funded this will be very beneficial to our Volunteer Associations across the state. We will cross are fingers and anticipate a favorable outcome.

Please get to know your legislator on a first name basis, invite them to your events! It helps all of the Missouri Fire Service!

We are proud to announce that 80% of you registered your fire department with the Division. This is the highest ever, and we appreciate you doing so. Hopefully we have done our part to make this experience as painless as possible.

We need your help. Mutual Aid Coordinator Matt Luetkemeyer mentioned this to me, that department information, and NFIRS reporting needs improved. We depend heavily on what you enter into the systems. We get calls from insurance companies, legislators, other fire departments inquires frequently about what information in enter. What we have discovered the fire service is its own worst enemy, we do not do a good job entering good solid information. We challenge you going forward to try and put good quality information into the system.

I came across this article and maybe it will shed some light on why we are, are own worst enemy.

My Home Safety Plan
By John Rybski

With another round of budgetary cuts (Federal) on the horizon I can’t help but wonder what can be done to show the real value of a fire department.

As I continue to train on fire damage assessment it is apparent that fire loss value data continues to be poorly reported around the country. This contributes significantly to the ability to properly fund departments. While many departments and agencies are concerned about the perceived “Fire Problem” if they report accurate loss values, inaccurate information has contributed to a different type of problem, a budgetary problem.

The real “Fire Problem” that is troubling local, state and national agencies is inaccurate data used to make important financial decisions. Based on data released by NFPA and NFIRS the average fire loss in 2015 was approximately $9,000.00, yet the insurance industry is reporting a significant increases around the country. According to LexisNexis Solutions, an insurance industry reporting service. For comparison sake, restoration industry statistics reflect the average fire loss to be closer to $69,000.00. That’s seven times higher than the fire service average. While it’s no secret that determining fire loss values can be difficult, time consuming and inconsistent at best, it often goes unreported. This inconsistent and unreported fire loss data is “the real fire problem” facing departments today.

Imagine the affect inconsistent data would have on the sports industry if goals, home-runs, or win/losses were inconsistent or unreported. I would guess that professional athletes would not be earning as much without accurate statistics. Nearly every industry relies on consistent, reliable, track-able, data. Why not the fire service?

A department I recently spoke with reported 30 structure fires last year. While some of the incident reports indicated loss value as unreported, the national average would indicate a cumulative fire loss value of $270,000.00 for that department.

Using the same example as above, if this department reported 30 fires using the restoration industry average they would have reported over 2 million dollars in property damage. While this may be perceived as a “Fire Problem” it’s really a reporting problem…… Same number of fires…. just not accurate data. No wonder they have trouble increasing their budget. Proper funding is the real fire problem and inaccurate data is the root cause. In a recent independent study, we found departments across the country inaccurately reporting fire loss values by as much as 70%. Coupled with the number of losses that are unreported, it’s no surprise that budgets are not appropriated properly.

To address this “Fire Problem” we have spent years developing a calculator that will place a value on the structural damages after a fire based on general information related to that loss. This calculator can be used on a smart phone, tablet or desktop and is free to use for the fire service. It is updated quarterly and has a price index reflective of all 50 states. In 5 minutes or less, an estimated repair cost with 5% to 7% margin of error can be calculated for more accurate incident reports.

Please take a look at this tool and see if it would help create more accurate and consistent reports. www.myhomesafetyplan.com/fire-service. While it is our goal to reduce risk in home fires, we are also passionate about helping the fire service, and in order to do so adequate budgets need to be established. It is this “Fire Problem” we wish to transform.

Please feel free to reply with any questions or comments. We currently provide training and support to fire agencies around the country who wish to improve their fire loss value reporting.


I hope this information was worth the read.

I was contacted a few weeks ago from Kenny Seifert (Assistant Executive Director) for the Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA). He expressed the tremendous need for Sports Officials. He stated Firefighters, Law Enforcement, and EMS personnel possess the skills and training that fits in well with the requirements to be an Official. In addition to the financial rewards, this a great opportunity to be engaged in activities that are community oriented. Go to www.mshsaa.org and click on Officials and watch the video, could be a great hobby to pick up.

In closing, we continue to stay aggressive with updating our training and certifications program. At last report you have taken/tested more state certified classes in the history of the division. Some of our accomplishments over the last two years: Fire Inspector II, Live Fire Training (NFPA1403), conducted 5 Fire Investigator courses across the state, just to name a few. Hopefully we will have exciting news in the near future in regards to Online Testing.

If you have an event you would like for your state fire marshal to attend, give me a call (573-751-1742) or Facebook message. If it’s where we can, we will do our best to come. Stay safe and continue to “Be the best boots on the ground” and “Leave things better that you found them”!

Fire Marshal J. Tim Bean
State Fire Marshal
Division of Fire Safety