FIRE DEPARTMENT: REORGANIZE SUPPRESSION COMPANIES

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FIRE DEPARTMENT: REORGANIZE SUPPRESSION COMPANIES

 

Problem Identification:
There are more fire companies than necessary to meet the fire protection demands of the City of Baltimore. Reductions in the number of stations could be made while maintaining conformance with nationally recognized criteria.

Recommended Action:
Eliminate up to eight fire companies and consolidate fire stations, reducing the current stations by up to seven.

Classification:
Cost Savings

Functional/Operational Area:
Fire Suppression

Estimated Annual Impact:
$5,000,000 – $6,000,000

Estimated Implementation Cost:
None

Barriers to Implementation:
Community concerns regarding loss of local fire station. Union concerns relative to loss of overtime pay.

Projected Implementation:
Immediately

Next Step:
Disband the following companies: Engine 3, Engine 19, Engine 24, Engine 52, Engine 128, Truck 9, Truck 13, and Truck 15. Transfer all existing personnel within these companies into vacancies at other stations throughout the Department, thus reducing callbacks.

Analysis:
The project team conducted an analysis of the “response patterns” of all engine and truck companies currently in service within the city using nationally recognized criteria. ‘Distribution’ of companies (making sure all areas of the city are protected) and ‘concentration’ of companies (making sure multiple companies could be quickly gathered together) were both studied.

A total of eight companies (five engines and three trucks) were identified as being redundant. The overriding criterion was response time. The analysis involved mapping the coverage area for each of the BCFD’s 61 first-line fire engine and truck companies. A 1.5-mile coverage area, measured along the existing roadways and in a diamond configuration was the initial benchmark (1). That mapping revealed significant overlap and redundancy among both engine and truck companies. Each area of redundancy was assessed further, analyzing:

– Surrounding land use, providing relatively greater fire protection for dense residential areas;
– Street and traffic patterns;
– Types of structures in the area; and
– Availability of alternative fire protection (e.g., industry fire protection capacity and automatic mutual aid from surrounding counties).

Current fire suppression activity levels were not a predominant factor. None of the companies recommended for elimination, nor any of the adjacent companies which would pick up the additional load, is even close to its full capacity. The busiest company is at or below 10 percent capacity (2.4 hours in service per 24-hour day). Most of the companies in question are responding more than two-thirds of the time to medical emergencies. They will, therefore, have even greater capacity available, should the accompanying recommendation for increased EMS investment is adopted.

The elimination of the companies recommended will not overburden the remaining companies. The projected in service time for the remaining companies will still be over 10 hours less than the current in service time for the average medic unit.

The following lists each company proposed for elimination, the adjacent companies which can service the area, the distance of these companies from the company to be closed, and the proposed additional in-service time for each, as well as other relevant factors:

Recommended Closing: Engine 3
Address:
6714 Pulaski Highway (1952) (2)
Current Usage: 1.06 hours/day
73 percent of total responses are medic-related

Adjacent Companies:
E 27 (2.5 miles away)
Current usage: 1.63 hours/day
Projected usage: 1.84 hours/day

E 41 (3.3 miles away)
Current usage: 1.38 hours/day
Projected usage: 2.11 hours/day

E 51 (1.8 miles away)
Current usage: 1.97 hours/day
Projected usage:2.70 hours/day

E 54 (3.1 miles away)
Current usage:1.01 hours/ day
Projected usage:1.22 hours/ day

E 124 (2.3 miles away)
Current usage: 1.12 hours/day
Projected usage: 1.33 hours/day

Other factors:

– Baltimore County mutual aid will assist in coverage
– Minimally residential
– Good access via roads and highways
– Fire Academy location

Recommended Closing:Engine 19
Address:1312 Guilford Avenue (1906)
Current Usage:2.5 hrs/day
69 percent of total responses are medic-related

Adjacent Companies:Engine 6 (0.9 miles away)
Current Usage:3.02 hrs/day
Projected Usage:4.04 hrs/day

Engine 13 (1.2 miles away)
Current Usage:3.06 hrs/day
Projected usage:4.07 hrs/day

Engine 23 (1.6 miles away)
Current usage: 2.23 hrs/day
Projected usage:2.73 hrs/day

Engine 31 (1.6 miles away)
Current usage:2.17 hrs/day
Projected usage:2.66 hrs/day

Engine 33 (1.4 miles away)
Current usage:1.8 hrs/day
Projected usage:2.81 hrs/day

Recommended Closing:Engine 24
Address:214 ½ N. Patterson Park Ave. (1904)
Current Usage:2.35 hrs/day
67 percent of total responses are medic-related

Adjacent Companies:Engine 5 (0.6 miles away)
Current usage:1.75 hrs/day
Projected usage:2.27 hrs/day

Engine 6 (1.2 miles away)
Current usage:3.02 hrs/day
Projected usage:4.04 hrs/day

Engine 33 (2.2 miles away)
Current usage:1.8 hrs/day
Projected usage:2.81 hrs/day

Adjacent Companies:Engine 41 (1.5 miles away)
Current usage:1.38 hrs/day
Projected usage:2.11 hrs/day

Engine 51 (1.1 miles away)
Current usage:1.97 hrs/day
Projected usage:2.7 hrs/day

Other factors:

– Adjacent to Patterson Park

Recommended Closing:Engine 52
Address:3525 Woodbrook Avenue (1922)
Current Usage:2.32 hrs/day
66 percent of total responses are medic-related

Adjacent Companies:Engine 8 (1.6 miles away)
Current usage:2.28 hrs/day
Projected usage:2.79 hrs/day

Engine 13 (1.5 miles away)
Current usage:3.06 hrs/day
Projected usage:4.07 hrs/day

Engine 20 (2.0 miles away)
Current usage:1.97 hrs/day
Projected usage:2.48 hrs/day

Engine 29 (1.5 miles away)
Current usage:2.68 hrs/day
Projected usage:3.14 hrs/day

Engine 40 (1.7 miles away)
Current usage:1.81 hrs/day
Projected usage:2.32 hrs/day

Other factors:

– Adjacent to Druid Hill Park

Recommended Closing:Engine 128
Address:1302 E. Chesapeake Avenue (1952)
Current Usage:0.67 hrs/day
43 percent of calls are medic-related

Adjacent Companies:Engine 35 (1.5 miles away)
Current usage:1.22 hrs/day
Projected usage:1.42 hrs/day

Engine 57 (1.2 miles away)
Current usage: .86 hrs/day
Projected usage:1.06 hrs/day

Engine 58 (3.3 miles away)
Current usage:2.15 hrs/day
Projected usage:2.36 hrs/day

Other factors:

– less residential than other overlapping engine companies
– available industry capacity
– assistance from mutual aid with adjacent county

Recommended Closing:Truck 9
Address:3724 Roland Avenue
Current usage:0.9 hrs/day
42 percent of total responses are medic-related

Adjacent Companies:Truck 29
Current usage:1.29 hrs/day
Projected usage:1.59 hrs/day

Truck 5
Current usage:2.23 hrs/day
Projected usage:3.05 hrs/day

Truck 16
Current usage:2.77 hrs/day
Projected usage:3.70 hrs/day

Recommended Closing:Truck 13
Address:43 S. Carey Street (1907)
Current Usage:2.53 hrs/day
72 percent of total responses are medic-related

Adjacent Companies:Truck 8 (1.9 miles away)
Current usage:1.51 hrs/day
Projected usage:2.14 hrs/day

Truck 10 (1.0 mile away)
Current usage:2.11 hrs/day
Projected usage:
2.75 hrs/day

Truck 16 (1.5 miles away)
Current usage:2.77 hrs/day
Projected usage:3.70 hrs/day

Truck 23 (0.7 miles away)
Current usage:1.53 hrs/day
Projected usage:2.16 hrs/day

Recommended Closing:Truck 15
Address:1223 N. Montford Avenue (1908)
Current Usage:2.1 hrs/day
69 percent of total responses are medic-related

Adjacent Companies:Truck 1 (1.4 miles away)
Current usage:1.70 hrs/day
Projected usage:2.22 hrs/day

Truck 3 (1.4 miles away)
Current usage:1.62 hrs/day
Projected usage:2.15 hrs/day

Truck 5 (1.6 miles away)
Current usage:2.23 hrs/day
Projected usage:3.05 hrs/day

Truck 26 (2.2 miles away)
Current usage:1.45 hrs/day
Projected usage:1.97 hrs/day

Other factors:
Proximity of Armco Steel
The BCFD has an established computer software program that identifies the positive and/or negative impact when companies are added or removed from service. The BCFD’s goal is to have an engine company at the emergency scene within five minutes of receiving the call, a truck company on location within six minutes, and the entire first alarm assignment (four engines and two trucks) within ten minutes. The average time for the BCFD dispatcher to handle the dispatch of apparatus is 58 seconds, which is included in the response time criteria.

The tables below show the percentages of successful coverage citywide in meeting the established goals at present compared with the eight identified companies removed:

Current Eight Companies Removed
First-Due Engine 76% First-Due Engine 71%
First-Due Truck 70% First-Due Truck 68%
First Alarm Assignment 86% First Alarm Assignment 84%

The computer also analyzed the impact the removal of these companies would make compared to actual 1997 fire incidents (which is the most recent data) in the system and compared it to all companies currently in service. Shown below are the results.

Current Eight Companies Removed
First-Due Engine 72% First-Due Engine 68%
First-Due Truck 79% First-Due Truck 77%
First Alarm Assignment 77% First Alarm Assignment 75%

Both analyses reflect only a minor negative impact upon the level of fire protection provided. Average first response times should remain well below five minutes, the current and widely accepted standard of the BCFD.

Based upon these results, the project team concluded that more lives could be saved by converting the identified companies into medic units and reallocating personnel to fill currently vacated positions, thereby reducing overtime.
(1) The 1.5 mile coverage area is consistent with standards promulgated by the fire insurance industry and the Urban Guide for Fire Prevention and Control. Those standards would permit a 2.5 mile coverage area for truck companies but the more conservative 1.5 mile coverage was applied to both engine and truck companies.

(2) Year indicated is when the stationhouse was built.