The Near Miss Program

When the IAFC's Near Miss program was introduced eight years ago, it took the first important step to narrow a growing experience gap in the fire community. Our goal was—and still is—to improve firefighter and EMS provider safety by collecting near miss experiences and turning them into effective training.

The need to innovate our approach has been building for some time. With the introduction of new systems and technologies comes an opportunity to elevate what the Near Miss program set out to accomplish.

Program Development

Over 5,000 reports have been submitted to the Near Miss program since its inception, and the "Report of the Week" has been used across the country as an effective firehouse kitchen table training aid.

While this was a good first step, we can do more. We're taking the "capturing" of experiences to the next level. We are leading the development of informative and engaging tools that will make a dramatic impact on the operations of fire communities across the world.

In 2013, the IAFC reset the Near Miss program with a goal of turning lessons learned into lessons applied. As part of the journey, historical data collection processes and new technologies were evaluated. We adopted advanced approaches that have proven themselves in related disciplines.

By leveraging Department of Defense technology for gathering and sharing experiences, the Near Miss program now runs on the XCapture technology platform, which coaches firefighters to share stories in ways that can be more effectively applied in training. While the stories shared to date have tremendous value, the ones submitted going forward can build on their promise through added structure and fewer gaps in the narratives.

Interview System

The new Near Miss report submission tool:

  • Uses a guided interview to elicit structured information
  • Intelligently tailors its prompts based on your answers
  • Collects information on the decision-making process used in the event
  • Includes timeline tools to highlight cause-and-effect relationships

At the same time, we kept foundational elements key to the program's early success:

  • A two-stage review process that ensures anonymity and the proper vetting of information
  • A narrative section that allows firefighters and EMS providers to tell the story from their own perspective

While reports will now require a little more effort, the new system will:

  • Produce more engaging training as details from the report's capture tool feed directly into scenarios
  • Offer better data analytics
  • Streamline the effort of subject matter experts to validate reports

Training System

In addition to original core features such as the "Report of the Week," we unveiled two new decision training systems that teach you how to apply past experiences and lessons learned to crisis situations through scenario-based, simulation training.

AlphaACT FIRE and AlphaACT HAZMAT leverage the cases entered into the Near Miss system. Using the principles of the recognition-primed decision model, the AlphaACT applications help you characterize your event and then present similar cases you can use to build an effective course of action. This training is critical in making the shared lessons learned applicable to the fire community. Not only are you training on trending topics, you are learning how to leverage your experiences when information is unclear or incomplete and building a powerful mental "Rolodex" of experiences to draw upon during response.

This type of training is more critical today than ever before. As the fire community adapts to the loss of a generation of retiring firefighters and a reduction in fire-related incidents, the impact of every experience is exponentially increased.


The Near Miss program is being relaunched to elevate the value of lessons learned. Through the integration of technology and community-driven process, we are creating training that builds on every evolution. Shared lessons learned become more than a story shared; they become a catalyst for training that can save lives.


Current Issue

November 2017
Volume 12, Issue 11