· Level of commercial development
· Predominant construction types
· Available water supply
These are the factors that affect how much fire protection will be needed in your community. Let me assure you that there is a direct relationship between an increase in the number of people who live in you community, and the number of emergency service responses that will occur in your area. I have seen this time and again as new developments have opened here in my fire district.
My area here in Adelphia is no different than any other place in the world. If there are more houses, there exists a greater potential for problems. Even if the percentage of chance in any single home remains the same, there are a lot more places for that chance to occur. It is better to prepare for what may occur than to be cause short.
In line with this, a solid plan for the future will allow you to budget for growth over time. It is better to increase your requests a little bit each year than to be faced with a sudden jump of major proportions. Let us look at how each of these might be addressed in a target community.
1. The population has demonstrated potential for growth.
2. The demand for service has the potential for growth.
3. The changes occurring in your community may have a negative impact upon your ability to recruit new members for the fire department.
4. There has been an increase in the number of residential occupancies.
5. Commercial development has entered a new growth stage.
6. Your road network does not allow for ease of apparatus movement throughout the entire community.
7. Your new residents require the assistance of the fire department to understand the unique safety skills of living in a suburban setting.
8. I observed each of the following transportation and movement mediums during our visits:
a. Roads and highways
b. Aircraft over head (Heavy air traffic from your local airport)
c. The impact of the transport mechanisms must be a part of your planning for future emergency service needs.
9. The potential exists for the development of multiple dwelling residential occupancies that could occur in response to low-income housing concerns been seen at the state level.
10. It has been my experience that where you have an increase in a given population base that this normally translates in an increased potential demand for service.
11. Most new construction is of a type that is not friendly to firefighters.
12. This creates structural integrity problems, as standards have been diminished to some extent by those construction and materials practices that are allowed by the building code minimum requirements.
13. This problem can be partially attenuated through an increased emphasis on installed alarms, and automatic suppression devices.
14. A limited area is protected by fire hydrants. This may grow with an increase in development. Fortunately, a number of water system improvements are under way.
Once the issues like this have been addressed, you must assess what the community will demand of you. You do this by laying out a series of possible events that might occur. Here is an example from a recent consulting job performed by my firm.
After giving each of these criteria a due level of review and concern, I offer the following for your guidance. I believe five basic scenarios exist that merit additional thought on the part of fire department planners in your community.