Staffing and Response Analysis

Executive Summary

The business of providing emergency services has always been labor intensive, and remains so to this day.  Although new technology has improved firefighting equipment and protective gear, and has led to advances in modern medicine, it is the firefighters who still perform the critical tasks necessary to contain and extinguish fires, rescue trapped occupants from a burning structure, and provide emergency medical and rescue services.  When staffing falls below minimum acceptable levels so does service; at this point, the goals and expectations set by the community are essentially abandoned.  



Citizens pay for protection of life and property through their tax dollars, and they assume that their elected and appointed officials will make informed decisions regarding that protection.  Too often, however, that decision making process has been based solely on budgetary expedience.  Irrespective of the resources provided, citizens continue to believe that firefighters are prepared to provide an aggressive interior assault on fires, successfully accomplishing victim rescue, fire control, and property conservation.  They do not expect firefighters to take defensive actions- to simply surround a fire and “drown it”- because to do so would be to concede preventable loss of both life and property.



The purpose of the following analysis is to compare the current staffing and deployment of the Mansfield  Fire Department against existing National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) professional standards and Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) safety regulations, including compliance with NFPA 1710 staffing performance objectives and the OSHA “2 In/2 Out” regulation.  The procedures involved in this analysis consisted of the generation of GIS mapping response scenarios under existing staffing and deployment configurations, a statistical analysis of fire service response capabilities, and an evaluation of GIS outcomes measured against NFPA standards and OSHA regulations.

Analysis Contents

The following analysis can be divided into 2 categories:

Fire Suppression Capabilities:
4 Minute Engine Coverage
8 Minute Full Alarm Coverage
2 In 2 Out Compliance
2008 Fire Incidents

Emergency Medical Services Capabilities:
4 Minute Population Coverage
Cardiac Survivability
2008 EMS Incidents

Click on one of the above links to view the results of the GIS Analysis.

Analysis Summary

The Mansfield Fire Department Responded to 1,637 Fire Incidents in 2008, including 94 Structure Fires.

The Mansfield Fire Department Responded to 6,441 EMS incidents in 2008.

What is GIS?

Geographic information systems are used by government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and businesses to describe and analyze the physical world.  Simply put, a GIS combines layers of information about a geographic region to give you a better understanding of that region.  Layers of information can be combined depending on the purpose of the study, forming a computer model of a jurisdiction on which many types of analysis can be made.  In the public safety sector, and for the purposes of this analysis, GIS software uses geography and computer-generated maps as an interface for integrating and accessing location-based information.  For example, the location of fire stations can be layered on a jurisdiction’s geography including the road network, water features, building footprints, or any other feature that has been digitized and assigned a location.  In this manner, GIS allows public safety personnel to effectively plan for emergency response, determine mitigation priorities, analyze historical events, and predict future events.  GIS can also be used to provide critical information to emergency responders upon dispatch or while en route to an incident to assist in tactical planning.


ArcGIS 9.3 and Network Analyst

Network Analyst is an extension, or software tool, that manipulates the network data incorporated into a GIS.  Networks are interconnected line features, visually represented as roads, rivers, pipelines, or trails.  From this data, it is possible to determine the best route between two spots or amongst several points, calculate travel cost in distance or time, find the closest facility to an address, or model service areas. For more details on Network Analyst and the processes involved in creating the study see the related article: How well does the model fit? Or, see a demo of Network Analyst from the ESRI website.


Data Sources

For this analysis, the original datasets were obtained from a variety of sources. The majority of layers: road network, boundary files, building footprints, parcel data, etc.were obtained from the Richland County GIS Consortium. Demographic information and boundary files were obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau. Additionally, many layers were created throughout the GIS process including, Geo-coded point features, Network analyst service areas, and Geoprocessing outputs.


The Role of NFPA

The mission of the NFPA is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating scientifically-based consensus codes and standards, research, training, and education, and recommends that all fire departments establish a policy of providing and operating with “the highest possible levels of safety and health for all members.”[1]


The recommendations and analysis contained in this study are guided by NFPA standards for two important reasons.  First, NFPA standards provide fire departments with a measure of “interoperability.”  Interoperability enables fire service personnel in the chain of command to speak the same language and conform to the same operational guidelines.  NFPA standards provide the fire service with a common language, common definitions, and common requirements that are meant to foster the safe and effective delivery of fire suppression, rescue, EMS, and special services to a given community.  Second, NFPA standards are formulated via consensus development.  Development of NFPA standards are the result of scientific research, empirical studies, and consensus among technical experts and the organizations with which they are affiliated.  Combined, these factors legitimate NFPA standards as the yardstick by which fire departments are measured internationally.


On account of their emphasis on safe and effective fire suppression and rescue operations, the two standards that will be referenced most often throughout this analysis are NFPA 1500 and NFPA 1710.  NFPA 1500, Standard on Fire Department Occupational Safety and Health Program, specifies (1) the minimum requirements for a fire department’s occupational safety and health program, and (2) the safety procedures for members involved in rescue, fire suppression, and related activities.    NFPA 1500 recommends that a “minimum acceptable fire company staffing level should be four members responding on or arriving with each engine and each ladder company responding to any type of fire.”


The purpose of NFPA 1710, Standard for the Organization and Deployment of Fire Suppression Operations, Emergency Medical Operations and Special Operations to the Public by Career Fire Departments, is “to specify the minimum criteria addressing the effectiveness and efficiency of the career public fire suppression operations, emergency medical service, and special operations delivery in protecting the public of the jurisdiction and the occupational safety and health of fire department employees.”[2]  The standard recommends “fire companies, whose primary functions are to pump and deliver water and perform basic fire fighting at fires, including search and rescue… shall be staffed with a minimum of four on-duty personnel.[3]  Fire companies whose primary functions are to perform the variety of services associated with truck work, such as forcible entry, ventilation, search and rescue, aerial operations for water delivery and rescue, utility control, illumination, overhaul and salvage work… shall [also] be staffed with a minimum of four on-duty personnel.[4] 


The NFPA 1710 Standard is important because it applies the documented and proven science of fire behavior and emergency medicine to the basic resource requirements for effective fire and emergency service deployment.  Coupled with GIS analysis, this application allows a community to determine if the resources allocated for the different types of fires, emergencies, medical calls and other incidents are sufficient to effectively control the incident and protect lives and property.  NFPA 1710 sets forth in concise terms the recommended resource requirements for fires, emergencies and other incidents.  The standard requires, and GIS analysis facilitates, the emergency response organization to evaluate its performance and report it to the authority having jurisdiction.  The approach embodied by NFPA 1710, and supported by GIS analysis, makes communities and firefighters safer and responders more effective and enhances efficiency.

[1] NFPA Mission Statement

[2] NFPA 1710, § 1.2.1

[3] NFPA 1710, § and §

[4] NFPA 1710, § and §


Quick Navigation