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  1. #1
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    Default Staffing using statistics FEMA

    I was recently looking around for something on this wonderful internet that we have when I stumbled upon this article.

    http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/fireservice/...ols/index.shtm

    The question applies more to the career side than it does the volunteer side. But I am wondering how many departments are using these methods to obtain proper staffing levels. For instance, if you look in the report they have an example from Canton Ohio that shows they have more fires from 12pm (noon) until 12am (midnight) Based on that data one could justify more fire fighters being on duty during that time period. There is also another chart that shows that they have more fires on Saturdays and Sundays than any other day of the week.


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    I'll step into this one first in a vain attempt to provide some education to Mr. Trotter.

    Start here to discover how career departments determine staffing:

    http://www.iso.com/index.php?option=...92&Itemid=1088

    Taxpayers, individuals and corporate, want to pay the least amount in home and, more importantly, business insurance they can. You'll have to speak with an insurance representative to determine the exact savings between the various ISO ratings. It all comes down to dollars and cents.

    As for the stats and computations above our administration runs them monthly for our fire and ems units and presents them to the mayor and council. They use them to determine where we need new stations and maybe adding more ECs (ambulances.)

    For staffing our ISO would take a hit if we only staffed during the most likely times of fire. We have stations in the rural areas that make very few runs but save our local horse industry thousands in insurance costs just by being there. Once again the almighty dollar.

    You also cannot forget political pressures to keep stations where they are. Where I live I have two stations within five miles. Head downtown there are five stations (original city department stations) within two miles. They'll never leave or move due to political pressure from those areas (please don't ask me to spell it out for you as to why.)

    Hope this helps as a start.

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    LEX I believe Trotter was thinking along the lines of using the statistics to gain staff not cut. While day staffing may (and it could) not change your ISO rating, most of us in the business want/need more staff to do the job. I'm willing to bet more career depts. base tehir staffing on budgets and other numbers and then settle on their ISO rating. After all City Hall would rather see you pay less in taxes and more in fire insurance, because you can't blame it on them! And going forward ISO may be losing favor ans more insurance companies such as State Farm use their own data and ignore ISO.

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    Too bad we dont use ISO ratings for insurance here in Colorado, they just use Money hungary State Farm, and they could care less for anything except their bottom line..Money! everything is based on Fire History, we went career this year from a Volli Dept. but guess what it wont decrease your insurance... because history is how they charge you!

    This information was gatered though my sister who is a State Farm Agent!
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    I believe the infamous Trotter is trying to rationalize adding staff only during peak times. His example was from 1200 to 2400. Fire coverage is more of a geography and population density game versus a stats game. Many play the average or mean for their decisions, the problem this creates is that the extremes are taken into account, you don't want the extremes calculated if you want good information. The median, dividing number between the higher and lower samples is also not a good measure to use. The mode, which measures the frequency of an occurrence, would be the best way (in my opinion) to determine what staffing you might need. The buggy I was assigned to made an average of 11.6 runs a day per the numbers, in reality we made about 14 to 16 a day with an occasional fluke day of less than 10 or more than 20. Those flukes are enough to push the median down below our mode, the number of runs we actually make each day.

    Anyone who determines where to put stations based solely on stats is a fool. All factors have to be taken into account. If a fire chief just goes with the flow and takes what ISO he is given is not IMHO not doing his job. He should be pushing for the best possible fire protection available for his charge.

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    without getting into who started what, why not? police department adjust their staffing due to the time of day? EMS does the same thing, with urban departments often putting on a "power truck" during heavier time periods. heck, even dispatchers do that (usually an extra person during the daytimes).

    will you get burned (figuratively speaking)? yes, there is a possibility. HOWEVER, this risk occurs in the other aspects of public safety, and they have no problems with it. Further it allows them to have an increase in staffing during times when they need it, and lighter staffing when (statistically) they are slower, as such saving the taxpayers some $$$$

    again, I don't particularly think it is that good of an idea (or a bad once, considering others do it as well), but I don't think it's as stupid as some will thinkg.
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    Quote Originally Posted by wakehead View Post
    Too bad we dont use ISO ratings for insurance here in Colorado, they just use Money hungary State Farm, and they could care less for anything except their bottom line..Money! everything is based on Fire History, we went career this year from a Volli Dept. but guess what it wont decrease your insurance... because history is how they charge you!

    This information was gatered though my sister who is a State Farm Agent!
    Some insurance agencies have gone to their own rating system but it's anything BUT state-wide. My department made a huge effort about 7 years ago to get our ISO rating down and saved a lot of people some money in the mean-time.

    BTW you're with Lafayette right? I'm a volly with Boulder Mountain Fire.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lexfd5 View Post
    I believe the infamous Trotter is trying to rationalize adding staff only during peak times. His example was from 1200 to 2400. Fire coverage is more of a geography and population density game versus a stats game. Many play the average or mean for their decisions, the problem this creates is that the extremes are taken into account, you don't want the extremes calculated if you want good information. The median, dividing number between the higher and lower samples is also not a good measure to use. The mode, which measures the frequency of an occurrence, would be the best way (in my opinion) to determine what staffing you might need. The buggy I was assigned to made an average of 11.6 runs a day per the numbers, in reality we made about 14 to 16 a day with an occasional fluke day of less than 10 or more than 20. Those flukes are enough to push the median down below our mode, the number of runs we actually make each day.

    Anyone who determines where to put stations based solely on stats is a fool. All factors have to be taken into account. If a fire chief just goes with the flow and takes what ISO he is given is not IMHO not doing his job. He should be pushing for the best possible fire protection available for his charge.
    I am actually looking at better utilizing our resources in a more efficient manner. Obviously, one can not have enough resources for the worst case scenario. I also believe that we don't need the same staffing levels at all times.

    I did a little research into this ISO thing. Not all insurance companies use the ISO.

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    Question Question??..........

    Quote Originally Posted by wakehead View Post
    we went career this year from a Volli Dept.

    I don't mean to hijack the thread, but could you elaborate a bit on this?? Did you add Career staff for Daywork, or for full shift coverage? How many people do you have, Career and Volunteer?? Thanks. Stay Safe out there.
    Last edited by hwoods; 06-12-2007 at 09:12 AM.
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    While it may not be the Union party line, if I can get one more person today for 12 hrs? I'll take them. Next year maybe we show how it improved service, saved OT or reduced sick/injuries and get more hours. Every man hour on the job is of some value. Holding out for full additional staffing per shift is foolish. We added 2 EMS positions two years ago. They work 4-12 hr days(4 on 4 off). It wasn;t the added man per shift we wanted but between 7 a and 7p I have another firefighter off the bus and back on the engine. This year the City will look to add two more EMS only to gain the same during the overnight. Realistically the City would not have given us another firefighter/EMT per shift, so we got creative and hell EMS makes money so there's no question its good!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by HotTrotter View Post
    I am actually looking at better utilizing our resources in a more efficient manner. Obviously, one can not have enough resources for the worst case scenario. I also believe that we don't need the same staffing levels at all times.

    I did a little research into this ISO thing. Not all insurance companies use the ISO.
    You want to use resources in a more efficient manner, yet you feel that it is okay for the firefighters in East Cleveland to cut grass or do anything else Mayor McMutt and his lapdog can come up with...

    Are you practicing running for elective office? You have the saying two different things out of your mouth at the same time pretty down pat...
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
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    I'm all for becoming more efficient, but the last time I looked 50% of our structures did not hop on the interstate at 5 o'clock. It's alright to use power staffing techniques when you can predict incidents by population served. Those of us in the fire service don't have that option, our buildings are static.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainGonzo View Post
    You want to use resources in a more efficient manner, yet you feel that it is okay for the firefighters in East Cleveland to cut grass or do anything else Mayor McMutt and his lapdog can come up with...

    Are you practicing running for elective office? You have the saying two different things out of your mouth at the same time pretty down pat...
    Actually Captain, the East Cleveland thread is what prompted this. I have been in a few career firehouses. I didn't go on any calls and why I was there isn't really relevant, just say that I have been there during the day time hours. I observed the operations while perfomrig my function. I also ran with the ambulance service a few times. What I noticed was that things really didn't start happening until afternoon. With the ambulance qe had 3 crews setting around waiting for something to happen. Watched tv, slept, hung out. It was boring as hell. Then it got busy and things were busy. So if you used these stats to provide the right staffing levels you can then tell the mayor that in order for us to mow your grass we will have to bring in fire fighters to provide the additional coverage. In other words, we have used a statistical analysis to provide the mimimal amount of staffing. If you want us to do more work we need to bring in more people. Point is, you can then show the city that you have exactly what you need to do the job at hand, to do more, you will have to add more staff. I'm just suggesting that using the tools available you can fight city hall.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HotTrotter View Post
    Actually Captain, the East Cleveland thread is what prompted this. I have been in a few career firehouses. I didn't go on any calls and why I was there isn't really relevant, just say that I have been there during the day time hours. I observed the operations while perfomrig my function. I also ran with the ambulance service a few times. What I noticed was that things really didn't start happening until afternoon. With the ambulance qe had 3 crews setting around waiting for something to happen. Watched tv, slept, hung out. It was boring as hell. Then it got busy and things were busy. So if you used these stats to provide the right staffing levels you can then tell the mayor that in order for us to mow your grass we will have to bring in fire fighters to provide the additional coverage. In other words, we have used a statistical analysis to provide the mimimal amount of staffing. If you want us to do more work we need to bring in more people. Point is, you can then show the city that you have exactly what you need to do the job at hand, to do more, you will have to add more staff. I'm just suggesting that using the tools available you can fight city hall.

    And you expect City Hall to use these stats in the right manner? NO! They will use these stats to close companies during certain periods, reduce manpower, and during the so called "busy periods" maintain the level of staffing that already exists, because we have yet to fail in putting a fire out with the level of staffing we already have!

    We dont have enough manpower to do the job "as is" now! We never have, and we never will! How can unions and ffs justify fighting for higher staffing levels when we have people who think we have enough already, including firefighters????
    Proud East Coast Traditionalist.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HotTrotter View Post
    Actually Captain, the East Cleveland thread is what prompted this. I have been in a few career firehouses. I didn't go on any calls and why I was there isn't really relevant, just say that I have been there during the day time hours. I observed the operations while perfomrig my function.
    So.. since your "function" is being in the IT field, you were playing "geek squad tech" in a career firehouse.. and this makes you qualified to comment on proper staffing levels?

    I also ran with the ambulance service a few times. What I noticed was that things really didn't start happening until afternoon. With the ambulance qe had 3 crews setting around waiting for something to happen. Watched tv, slept, hung out. It was boring as hell.

    Then it got busy and things were busy. So if you used these stats to provide the right staffing levels you can then tell the mayor that in order for us to mow your grass we will have to bring in fire fighters to provide the additional coverage. In other words, we have used a statistical analysis to provide the mimimal amount of staffing. If you want us to do more work we need to bring in more people. Point is, you can then show the city that you have exactly what you need to do the job at hand, to do more, you will have to add more staff. I'm just suggesting that using the tools available you can fight city hall.
    Politicians don't think rationally. They think with their wallets instead of their heads and only look forward to getting re-elected.

    Just because you observed "busy time" in a afeternnon doesn't mean it will only be busy in the afternoon.

    Emergerncies happen 24/7/365/. You cannot apply private sector business thinking to public safety.. period.

    Your entire argument is flawed. If it were a horse, it would be shot to put it out of its misery.
    Last edited by CaptainGonzo; 06-13-2007 at 09:29 PM.
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    We never know when we will have a fire. We have days when we run alot during the day and then we have days where we run alot in the evening, night time or you get days when we run alot anytime of day or you have a day every once in awhile where you don't turn a wheel. Don't twist that last statement. I have yet to really see a fd that has enough staffing. Where did you do your ride along? Did you do it in Canton?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Geinandputitout View Post
    I'm all for becoming more efficient, but the last time I looked 50% of our structures did not hop on the interstate at 5 o'clock. It's alright to use power staffing techniques when you can predict incidents by population served. Those of us in the fire service don't have that option, our buildings are static.
    Is the hazard the structure or the nuts who occupy the structure?

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    Quote Originally Posted by nyckftbl View Post
    And you expect City Hall to use these stats in the right manner? NO! They will use these stats to close companies during certain periods, reduce manpower, and during the so called "busy periods" maintain the level of staffing that already exists, because we have yet to fail in putting a fire out with the level of staffing we already have!

    We dont have enough manpower to do the job "as is" now! We never have, and we never will! How can unions and ffs justify fighting for higher staffing levels when we have people who think we have enough already, including firefighters????
    Nope, don't expect city hall to use these stats. These stats are gathered by fire fighters for fire fighters. Using the stats we can better manage our operations.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainGonzo View Post
    So.. since your "function" is being in the IT field, you were playing "geek squad tech" in a career firehouse.. and this makes you qualified to comment on proper staffing levels?
    Actually, as I said, what I was doing there is irrelevant. I was able to see the operations and the departments in action. But if you must know, I tried doing sales of Fire Equipment at one time, a job that just isnít my cup of tea.

    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainGonzo View Post
    Politicians don't think rationally. They think with their wallets instead of their heads and only look forward to getting re-elected.

    Just because you observed "busy time" om in a anfeternnon doesn't mean it will only be busy in the afternoons.

    Emergerncies happen 24/7/365/. You cannot apply private sector business thinking to public safety.. period.

    Your entire argument is flawed. If it were a horse, it would be shot to put it out of its misery.
    Politicians are a bunch of things. They don't have steady jobs, so they must cater to he public in order to keep their jobs. They are elected to manage a municipality, as such, they are looking at numbers. And face it, the public is constantly complaining about high taxes. So what is the priority of the politician? To please the people who have elected him. And the elderly folks on fixed incomes, they complain the loudest. So the politician has to make sure the public gets what it wants. Ask the public what they want. Better law enforcement, better streets and roads, better parks, bike paths, etc. Very few will mention better fire protection. And in many places the Ambulance service is run by private companies, so that isnít even an issue. Most tax payers see the FD as a necessary evil, something they rarely use, but need just in case.

    Next, you can apply private sector management techniques to government operations. Wouldnít it be nice of we could eliminate the waste, abuse, and fraud that takes place in the government sector. It does apply just to public safety. And you can apply it to public safety as well. I realize emergencies happen 24 X 7 Ė 365. I also know there are trends to the call frequency and when they happen. I also know that no fire department or station is fully equipped for the worst-case scenario. They are staffed based on what the municipality can afford and what is the minimum number needed to respond to a single event.

    What I am suggesting is some creative thinking to provide better coverage and better response. Take the data and use it to make informed decisions. If your managers visit your facility and see a bunch of guys sitting around all the time waiting for a call they will obviously get the idea they have a lot of downtime, especially if that manager shows up during what can be shown to be the slow time.

    You can even make the argument that you need to go to 8-hour shifts. This will provide the municipality with will rested more alert responders. Itís a well proven fact that ones ability to function begins to degrade rapidly after 8 hours of work. Wouldnít it be great if as fire fighters you could work normal hours rather than this extended 24 hour shifts. And using 8 hour shifts, you could better staff yourselves for the busy times. Remember, you can use past history as way of predicting the future.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dday05 View Post
    We never know when we will have a fire. We have days when we run alot during the day and then we have days where we run alot in the evening, night time or you get days when we run alot anytime of day or you have a day every once in awhile where you don't turn a wheel. Don't twist that last statement. I have yet to really see a fd that has enough staffing. Where did you do your ride along? Did you do it in Canton?
    Nope, was never in Canton. But back on topic, take your situation above, you have days when you run a lot and days when you hardly get out. Look at the data associated with those days and see if there is a pattern. If you can find patterns you can better staff the station and do a better job of scheduling training. For instance, you find that on Mondays and Tuesdays between 3am and 12 am you have the fewest number of calls. Then this is the time to schedule your training to minimize the possibility of having the training interrupted.

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