The Integrated Reporting of Wildland-Fire Information (IRWIN) service is a Wildland Fire Information and Technology (WFIT) affiliated investment that is intended to provide an "end–to–end" fire reporting capability. This investment will streamline incident business processes and improve the quality of data for collecting and reporting incidents and events. The IRWIN Core team is tasked with providing integrated data exchange capabilities between the existing applications used to manage incidents related to wildland fire. IRWIN is focused on the goals of reducing redundant data entry, identifying authoritative data sources, and improving the consistency, accuracy, and availability of operational data.
Data is currently entered into many unique systems. Basic fire information, such as location, size, environmental conditions, and resources, is often repeatedly entered into stand-alone systems as a foundation for their capabilities. More timely, accurate information is entered into operation systems as conditions change over the life of an incident, while the original, outdated data remains in the supporting systems. Users tend to query systems they are most familiar with and consequently, may not be accessing the most up to date data available.
An example is the location of a fire (latitude and longitude). A 2008 interagency efficiency report identified that an interagency dispatcher may enter this piece of data up to 26 times into different systems. Once the dispatcher has received the required information from each system, they do not go back and update each system as more up to date location information becomes available.
When questions arise about individual fires, frequently, there are often multiple answers depending upon which data source is queried for the answer. While all of the answers may be valid in their specific context, there is no authoritative data source for a consistent answer. This presents a challenge for both the interagency fire community and line management at all levels of fire management agencies and departments.
Multiple studies and analysis over the years have identified a need for a more integrated approach to managing wildland fire occurrence data. These analyses include but are not limited to:
- National Interagency Fire Statistics Information Project (NIFSIP), September 1998
- Fire Statistics Task Group Proposal to NWCG, August 2003
- Report of the eGov Disaster Management Task Group to the National Fire and Aviation Executive Board, March 2006
- Fire Occurrence Reporting System (FORS) Study for the National Fire and Aviation Executive Board, February 2007
- National Wildland Fire Enterprise Architecture Blueprint, Version 2.0, July 2008
- Management Efficiency Assessment of the Interagency Wildland Fire Dispatch and Related Services, August 2008
In addition to the data inaccuracies, the capability to access the data and use it for lessons learned, planning for future events, and to inform decisions about future requirements is not readily available. The desire to execute future initiatives in kind is a laborious process taking considerable person-hours or the creation of "one off" initiatives to answer the question at hand. Further complicating matters is the need to incorporate non-federal partners data and develop requirements that can be incorporated into a holistic solution that considers the whole picture of data and is designed to be scalable to meet current and future demands.