1. #1

    Join Date
    Oct 2009

    Default Reasons for a new station?

    What is the typical constraint put on a fire station that would require a new station to be brought online? Is it that there are too many calls for one station to handle or as a community expands does the travel time/distance get so great that the response time requires a new station? Both? Maybe there is no typical?

    Many thanks in advance or any input. I'm new to these forums and if this should be posted someplace else please advise.

  2. #2
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    PaladinKnight's Avatar
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    Aug 2006


    I have a few questions so I can better qualify my response.

    Is your department full time or volunteer?

    What is your staff level?

    Is your funding base fairly secure and not affected by the economy?

    What is your ISO PPC Rating?

    Now I will try to give some quick thoughts about your question.

    Placement of Stations really need to be planned in regard to your response area, and to some degree, lean towards high call load areas or more densely populated areas. So call load is a factor to consider, depending on the circumstances.

    Travel Time and Distance is perhaps one of the key factors in planning new Stations. But the new Station should have more of an impact than just quicker response. If your department has a decent ISO rating, then you may be able to justify expanding the rating into the covered area, if it isn't already automatically included. That will translate to insurance savings for your citizens, which makes the arguement for the new station taste better to them.

    ISO and NFPA give you some guidance when it pertains to response distances and times. If you read NFPA1710 you will see the best arguement for a Station in the right place. Basically it states "an Engine Company (4 firefighters) must respond to the scene within 4 minutes, 90% of the time". Also, you will see that 1.5 road miles is the measured distance that this station can effectively serve that response area, which if the planets all line up right, translates to a 4 minute response. I've seen bumper to bumper traffic where traffic didn't move a mile in ten minutes so everything is relative depending on the situation.

    If your department does not have a decent ISO Rating, say a 9 rating, then it is too your departments advantage to do something about it. Building a new station may not be on your immediate needs list until you get past the survey the first time. Even if you have a pretty good idea concerning your strengths and weaknesses, ISO will do a pretty good job of pointing out issues that you may not have considered.

    Engine Companies, their locations (Distribution of Companies), and number of personnel make up 58% of the Fire Department score. Water supply makes up 40% of the overall score. But never wait until you think you're ready for ISO to invite them. Invite them soon and get their free advice. If you can improve your rating with what you have, you will get a better idea where that next station should go.

    Rule of thumb, that station should cover the highest population count possible for maximum effect on your rating. If you run mostly EMS calls, as most of us do, then this will be one of your main focus areas as well.

    One of the factors that departments face is placing their stations for maximum effect. If you look at the size of the response area, you could argue you need Stations spaced where they cover every square inch, within 1.5 mile of each structure. But this isn't possible or feasible finacially. So a compromise must be adopted. This is especially difficult where roads are not necessarily straight or in a grid pattern.

    There is not an easy answer, and perhaps I have strayed off track since I don't have enough data to really give you an educated answer. But look at your numbers, make your case and go with your scientific data, and you should get it right.

    I really hope this helps you out. I'm sure some others may be able to offer some suggestions as well.

    If you wish to ask more specific questions, feel free to send me a PM and I will try to advise you the best I can.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Oct 2009

    Default re: Reasons for a new station?

    PaladinKnight, thank you very much for that detailed response. I have to admit, sheepishly, that most of the information you provided is lost on me. I am not in emergency services but a county transportation planner. I am working on our road design standards with our public works department and putting together an argument to require either a grid type road system or some alternative that has a very high degree of connectivity. While developing the argument for such a thing I found the following (among others):


    The information in the presentation suggests that the (typical) constraint for stations is not the "call load" but rather the travel time/physical distance. The presenter goes on to make the leap that if they had a better street network, such as a traditional grid one station could serve a greater area resulting in cost savings (by expanding the area of stations rather than requiring new stations).

    I was wondering if the "call load over distance/time" is a reliable rule of thumb or if the information presented was more specific or "typical" to his jurisdiction. The amount of information provided by you leads me to believe that there may not be a reliable rule of thumb?

    You seem to suggest the call load may not be the critical metric where you state, "This is especially difficult where roads are not necessarily straight or in a grid pattern". However, now that you better understand the context of my request and my *ahem* limited *ahem* knowledge of the field you may wish to modify the information so a lay-person does not inadvertently mis-interpret the info.

    Again, thank you very much for the feedback and any other guidance you can provide.

  4. #4
    Forum Member
    PaladinKnight's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006


    Well I must say, that as a Fire Chief, it is a pleasure to finally meet a transportation person that is actually thinking 'out of the box' when it comes to doing something to make our life easier. There are many guys here that can speak about how there isn't a road where we need them, or a poor road that restricts or limits our access.

    Since you are on the 'front end' of the road system design, I suggest that you seek out the emergency agencies in your area and get their input as you study this issue. They can share their thoughts and I have no doubt you will get a mixture of useful and not-so-useful data.

    The link you provided is a rare analysis in many areas, but it does share many of the characteristics of what I suggested earlier. Sometimes we just have to adapt. But when the agencies work toward a common goal with a well developed plan, everyone wins, including the citizens.

    If you think about your specific area in terms of where existing stations are located, it will give you some idea of where the missing links are in relation to population and traffic data. If population growth is the primary driving force behind pre-planning road designs and locations, most agencies will also be looking at the same data. If we are all on the page, we can maximize our efforts and do a better job as we lay the groundwork.

    And again, I'm still in the dark about your particular situation, location and dynamics, but I applaude your efforts and dedication to this issue. I wish I had someone in our area that actually considered for one moment "how will the big red fire truck get to that location as quick as possible.... safely?" And it seems you are already well ahead of me since you understand that during a response, resources may come from more than one location, making the connectivity issue even more important.

    I am now really curious about your mission. If you are interested in providing a little more data as to the area, I will look at your data and give you my opinion based on my background and experience. I'm not sure if it will provide you anything useful in the longrun but we can sure give it a try. I have worked with planners and engineers over the years and it is always a challenge to get those roads and water supplies where we need them. You for one are actually asking the right questions, and I am quite impressed.

    If interested, send an email to: pknight0@yahoo.com

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