Fire Station Location Analysis

Station location analysis begins with an evaluation of the distribution of apparatus and personnel throughout a department’s service area relative to demand for the department’s services and the ability to meet system performance goals adopted by the department. While a department may evaluate resource deployment for a variety of reasons, our overall process remains the same. Our process consists of asking and answering three major questions. We use geospatial and statistical analysis and modeling, input from the department and multiple other city departments, and continual research into what is working and what is not working in departments across the country.

Do your current resource levels and deployment meet your current needs?
The first step is to determine whether your current resources in their current locations are meeting performance goals with current demand. The answer to this question is rarely a straightforward yes or no. You may be meeting goals in one area of the city but not the rest or some call types and not others. As the analysis moves forward, the answers to this question serve as a baseline to measure the impact of changes.

What will your future needs be?
This is a what, when, where, how question that starts with What changes in the community may impact the department’s services? Increases or decreases in the population served and the impact on demand is the number one question asked, but it is not the only question. We meet with city officials from relevant departments to understand planned and potential changes to the local economy, the city budget, demographics, zoning, road network, and risks specific to the area.

Then we look at What kind impact will these changes have? When will the impact be felt? Where will the impact be? Here we look initially at recent trends in demand: the type, the location, and the timing. We use geospatial and statistical modeling to develop projections for future demand using all the information gathered. We determine whether demand will change uniformly across your service area or if some areas will be affected differently than others. We also look at impacts not related to changes in demand. A new highway interchange might have a major impact the area an existing station could serve.

What changes in resource deployment are needed to meet your needs now and in the future?
The best answer to this question is none, but that is rarely the case. Here we use the information gathered from the first two questions and knowledge of similar departments and national trends to develop recommended changes to resource deployment.

It is easy to focus on limitations when looking for solutions and that sometimes prevents us from seeing all available options. Unless we are evaluating pre-selected potential sites or are asked specifically to look only at changes proposed by the department, we start by evaluating multiple scenarios from minimal changes to changing whatever is needed to achieve optimal results. We do this for serving current demand, conservative projections of future demand, and aggressive projections of future demand. We then evaluate department proposed scenarios and factor in limitations placed on us by reality (financial, geographic, organizational, political). We also consider the impact of non-resource deployment factors such as traffic and road widths.

Finally, we understand that predictions are less reliable as they go further into the future. We consider the uncertainty of the future: changes to services offered, in risk, in technology, in infrastructure, in the city’s finances.

There is no optimal solution, but we work to provide you with the best realistically implementable options.