FireTalk Introductions

FireTalk is an on-going project at the Illinois Fire Service Institute Library to improve access to fire science information. By means of this thesaurus, we can display in various arrangements all the indexing terms that describe the collection of the IFSI Library and aid the patrons who are searching the IFSI Library web catalog and other fire related databases, such as the USFA National Emergency Training Center and the New York Academy of Fire Science Library.

Indexing terms are descriptors chosen by librarians to reflect the content of a book, a journal article, or multimedia items. We try to include words or phrases that are used in the materials and by people in the fire and emergency services who search our catalog. The terms are also based on subjects from the United States Fire Administration's National Emergency Training Center (NETC), New York Academy of Fire Science Library, Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH), and Medical Subject Headings (MeSH). When we know different words could be used for the same concepts, we choose one for indexing but link the other words in FireTalk. For example, if you type "firemen" into the thesaurus, you will see that we use "firefighters." NETC and New York also uses "firefighters," although the Library of Congress Subject Heading is "firefighter" (two words).

The relationship of the indexing terms is what makes FireTalk of most importance. Under 13 major categories, which we call "top terms", the terms are grouped and then arranged into smaller categories according to their intrinsic logical relationships to each other. Following are the relationships we have labeled in FireTalk to show the related terms for each indexing term.

BT-NT Relationship (Broader Term-Narrower Term):
For example, Ladders and Aerial ladders are two terms related because an aerial ladder is a type of ladder. Seeing such relationships between terms can help broaden or narrow a search, knowing that the indexer had a choice of both terms and would use the most specific one for the material being indexed.

RT Relationship (Related Term):
For example, "Aerial ladders" and "ladder training" are two related terms. People who are looking for information about Aerial ladders might also be interested in information about ladder training, so FireTalk shows that relationship.

Use-UF Relationship (Use and Used For):
Many times different terms can mean the same thing, which presents a challenge for indexing our collection. Use and Used For relationships are developed to solve this problem. For example, fire origins and fire causes have the same meaning, but we simply use fire causes. Therefore, if you type fire origins in the thesaurus, it will remind you to use fire causes, since it is the designated indexing term.

Please consult FireTalk and browse through our easy-to-navigate thesaurus via the Web.


Special thanks to Professor Pauline Cochrane for the stimulating discussions and invaluable suggestions.

Campus Research Board Award, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign provided further support to the FireTalk, IFSI Thesaurus study in 2003.

FireTalk, IFSI Thesaurus was partially supported by several grants from the Illinois State Library in 2000-2001.