Responding quickly and effectively to emergency incidents is the most important job a fire department does. Making informed decisions about where to locate resources throughout the jurisdiction is an important part of preparing for fast and effective response. GIS can help agencies understand the geographic distribution of historic and potential incidents so that resources can be effectively placed to improve response times when an incident occurs.
This example of how GIS is used in the fire service focuses on just one specific aspect of deployment analysis: calculating response times. This use case describes how the Toledo, OH, fire department has used GIS to assess expected response times from each of its existing fire station locations. From the results of this analysis, fire department personnel tasked with planning and maximizing resources can easily identify how different neighborhoods will be affected by changes in service levels. The fire department can then make decisions about how to adjust staffing and equipment to maximize the effectiveness of available resources.
A comprehensive deployment analysis involves understanding where the highest risks and greatest likelihood of incidents occurring in a jurisdiction are. Once that is understood and compared to the results of a response time study, decisions about where to move, add, remove, or restructure resources will be made with a clear sense of the impact of those decisions.
Benefits of response time analysis for fire and emergency services agencies include
- Ability to evaluate the current and potential capabilities of response, including response time, firefighter assembly, and evaluation of alarm configurations
- Determination of individual response times from fire station locations, within 4- & 8-minute intervals (or other time intervals of significance to the community)
- Visualization of zones in a response area/jurisdiction lacking sufficient emergency response within 4, 8, or 10 minutes
Try GIS for yourself by visiting our Service Area Application.
Field Operations Guide for Performing Response Time Analysis
Learn more about how to perform a station response time analysis [PDF].