This three-volume report describes the method whereby data were gathered and analyzed on coal mine fire reports. The primary objective of the program was to develop an annotated bibliography of coal mine fire reports (1950-77). Two additional objectives were to gather data on nonreportable fires and to conduct statistical analyses on the data to delineate trends. The report does not include explosions or ignitions or fires that resulted from explosives. Data were acquired from three major sources: periodicals, MSHA (Mine Safety and Health Administration) fire reports, and mine safety directors. The primary data source was MSHA fire reports contained in the files of MSHA coal mine health and safety district and subdistrict offices. Data were separated into reportable fires (at least 30 minutes duration or injury), nonreportable fires, and opinion data. The data were then analyzed by time trends, state, ignition source, burning substance, location, equipment, detection, duration, injuries, fatalities, and successful extinguishing agents. Volume I contains data acquisition procedures, data analysis procedures, and conclusions and recommendations.