EU Science Hub

Harmonising information on fire events: the European Fire database

Jun 23 2014

The European Fire Database is an important component of the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS), the focal point of information on forest fires in Europe established by the Joint Research Centre (JRC) and the Directorate General for Environment. Containing over 2.3 million individual fire event records, it is the largest repository of information on individual fire events in Europe.  

Since its creation in 2000, the number of countries submitting their data to the European Fire database has progressively increased from 6 countries to 26* countries in 2013, including 4 countries of North Africa and Middle East. There is therefore a strong need for forest fire data harmonisation through a common understanding of latest definitions and data specifications. To this end, the JRC recently published a report entitled ‘The European Fire Database technical specifications and data submission’, which provides a comprehensive description of the latest European Fire Database structure and the requirements for country data submission. It also explains the data validation and storage processes carried out at the JRC.

Each year, individual EU Member States provide forest fire data on a voluntary basis. There is neither an obligation nor financial support available to carry out this task, but Member States have a common understanding of the importance of sharing such information. Individual fire records are routinely compiled by local fire fighters after the fires have been extinguished, following national standards. Each country has its own internal set of rules for reporting on individual fire events, which is in most cases done for administrative purposes. This results in large differences in data structures and definitions among national data recording systems.

The JRC provides technical support for converting national data to the common scheme, checking the quality and validating the delivered data, harmonising the data structure and maintaining the European Fire database.

To promote the exploitation of national fire data within the European Fire Database and to enhance data harmonisation and data quality control, the common dataset has been gradually modified over the years, and the latest specifications are presented in this new JRC report.

* The 26 countries contributing to the European Fire Database to date are: Algeria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Morocco, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia and Turkey.

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