Strategic Analysis -- Fire & Emergency Services in Collinsville Township
Strategic Analysis -- Fire Department
The department conducted a study on the current and forecast performance of the fire and emergency services community response and coverage. The response and coverage data indicates that the some recalibration of the provision of service is needed. In addition, the data strongly indicate the need for a substation in the new development are just outside Collinsville. Three strategic goals were identified:
Build a new fire and emergency services substation on the donated parcel.
Apply for grant funding to fill the staffing and equipment gaps until alternate funding is obtained.
Establish a program of total quality improvement in the operations of the fire and emergency services departments.
The effectiveness of these strategic changes to the provision of fire and emergency services in and around the township of Collinsville will be evaluated on a defined schedule. The focus of the evaluation will continue to be response times and coverage adequacy. An additional path for development and evaluation will be the monitoring of training programs designed to create a more robust first response team in the areas of Collinsville and surrounds.
Development in and around the township of Collinsville is inevitable and, in fact, is currently underway on the eastside of the county. As currently configured, fire and emergency services are inadequate to meet the needs of the additional people who are expected to move into the area. Current and future implementation of fire and emergency services must provide an affordable and balanced configuration of services, which ultimately must be measured in terms of response times and coverage. Several variables in the community point to the construction of a substation in the area of new development. The availability of funding for construction, equipment, and staffing is being explored, and a feasibility study is an anticipated next step. The mayor, the city council, and the residents of Collinsville must receive assurance of sufficient staff, equipment, and stations to meet the recommended NFPA 1720 staffing standards and the ISO standards of coverage for the population density, road conditions, climate, and terrain. To that end, the following presenting problems, areas of study, and recommendations are proposed.
This analysis commences with an assessment of past performance that fosters articulation of the current strategy and a forecast of future performance under the current strategy, in light of increased demand. From that base, the proposal identifies the need, nature, and speed of change that is desirable.
Problem Statements & Study Areas
1. Stakeholder Input
1.1. The fire chief is willing to expand the department.
1.2. Funds are needed to expand the fire department.
1.3. A parcel of land in the development has been donated for construction of a station.
2. Evaluation of Capability
2.1. Current issues with response times and coverage
2.2. Forecast response times and coverage with new substation
3. Funding Sources
3.1. SAFER and AFG grants for staffing plus benefits (limited to 1 -- 2 years)
3.2. AFG grants available for equipment, training, other (limited to 4 years)
3.3. Property and use taxes derived from increase in residents (overlapping end of grants)
3.4. Ambulance fees diverted from town coffers directly to fire department
3.5. Ordinance fees for residents outside of the township limits (remote)
3.6. Donations of cash and materials from local citizens for construction of the new station
4. Proposed Configurations of Service
4.1. New fire station fully but modestly equipped
4.2. One additional full-time fire fighter / Emergency Medical Technician will be added
4.3. A voluntary force of fire fighters and Emergency Medical Technicians will be recruited
4.4. Volunteer firefighter recruitment in rural areas has not been successful in the past
Framework for Analysis
To add structure to this analysis and common points of referral, a Diamond-E framework was employed. A concise explanation of the analytical framework is provided to facilitate interpretation of the discussion and proposal. Briefly, the four points of the diamond represent consideration of management preferences, the organization, resources needed and available, and the strategy. The "E" point of the framework is the external environment. Criteria for good strategy are that strategy must be sustainable, unique, and have real or perceived added value. The tensions to be addressed in this analysis are as follows: Want-to-do (the preferences of management), Can-do and able-to-do (the organization, capabilities, and resources), and Need-to-do (the environment). The sweet spot where these tensions overlap is the nexus of the strategy. To further elucidate: (1) The community is requesting better response time in the rural areas surrounding the township of Collinsville (environment / need-to-do); (2) The fire department's official position is to expand the fire department in the area to improve response times in the community (management preferences / want-to-do); (3) The fire department does not believe the response times are always what they need to be (organization and capabilities / can-do); and (4) The fire department is currently only able to respond from a single centralized location (resources / able-to-do).
Focus the Environmental Analysis
The purposes of this step in the analysis is to define the boundaries of the strategic proposals, to highlight any questions that have emerged regarding demand, supply, competition, and government, and to establish a time horizon for the analysis, if one has not yet been determined or if modifications to the time horizon are indicated or needed.
Collinsville is located on a peninsula formed by rivers on two sides and large rock out-crop mountains on the third side. The community has a population of approximately 12,000 people. The town contains three schools, one each at elementary, middle, and high school levels. A small hospital is located in the town, along with the typical array of governmental facilities and a busy downtown commercial area. Currently, fire service is provided by a fire department located near the town center. That fire department responds with 2 engines, 1 ALS ambulance, 1 BLS ambulance 1 ladder, a tanker and a brush truck. Two staff vehicles and a supply truck are also located at the department. Staffing at the fire department is as follows: A fire chief and a fire code inspector who work M-F day schedules, two fire fighters who each are on 24-48-hour shifts, and 20 paid on-call staff members. Mutual aid is located 12 miles from the local fire department at the closest point and 23 miles away at the farthest point. Call volume and a GIS map are provided in the Appendices.
Evaluation of Capability
Response time and coverage data. Response time is measured from the time emergency dispatchers receive a call to the time when the first equipment is on the scene. The public, however, clocks response time from the moment they first become aware of an emergency incident. Fire suppression time begins at the moment of ignition and runs until the fire is actually extinguished. Response time is influenced by a number of variables, including undiscovered combustion time, discovery time and discoverer, activation of 911 call processing, dispatch time, time to turnout and drive time, initial setup time and "vertical" response (time to fire location), fire-fighting (combat), and extinguishment.
According to the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS), 50% of the structure ?re response times are generally less than 5 minutes, and this is regardless of the time of day, the season, or the region of the country. . The nationwide 90th percentile is less than 11 minutes for structure fires. The Collinsville response time logs show average times for fire only by the regions designated as follows: Town = 7:06 minutes; Northwest = 8:01 minutes; Northeast = 9:09 minutes; Southeast = 9:53; and North Rural = 16:27. For emergency service response times triggered by motor vehicle collisions, the response time jumps to an average of 24 minutes with injuries and 27 minutes without reports of injuries on the Interstate, and an average 6-minute response time for collisions in town. By the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) standards, all average response times in the Collinsville township and surrounding regions are higher than the national average. The response times in the rural area where the new development is underway are unacceptably high. This data confirms the concerns expressed by the Fire Chief regarding the inadequacy of the current service configuration with regard to any foreseeable growth. Coverage reports from the Collinsville Fire Department logs indicate that the bulk of the service call -- upward of 90% according to the fire chief -- are for ambulances, and primarily for car accidents on the Interstate and in town.
Staffing capabilities and training. The fire chief reports that staff rarely receives formal training and many have been unable to maintain their formal certifications as a result. The ambulances typically make runs with one staff person and are joined on the scene by other staff as they are available. The chief argues that the fundamental problem is getting paid on-call staff to incidents in the remote area. The need for training has been established and recruitment to increase the ranks…