8 Minute Initial Full Alarm

Importance of 8 Minute Fire Response

The 8-minute goal for entire initial full alarm is critical because the progression of a structural fire to the point of “flashover” (the very rapid spreading of the fire due to super heating of room contents and other 

combustibles) generally occurs in less than 10 minutes.  As there is a potential delay between fire ignition, discovery, and the transmission of an alarm it may be said that flashover is likely to occur within 8 minutes of firefighters receiving the alarm. NFPA 1710 established the standard response objectives for the initial full alarm using a task based analysis. The minimum response time objective is as follows quoted to the right.


The Mansfield Fire Department currently sends a compliment of 3 Engines, 1 Ladder, 1 Rescue Squad and the on-duty Assistant Chief as the initial full alarm assignment to all fire suppression incidents. This compliment is in line with industry standards. The initial full alarm compliment is required to complete the following tasks in the initial stages of any fire suppression incident: 

  • Water Supply

  • Incident Command

  • Attack Hoseline

  • Back-up Hoseline

  • Search and Rescue

  • Ventilation
  • Initial Rapid Intervention Crew

Quick Navigation

GIS Web-Mapping

The following web map represents the GIS analysis demonstrating the Mansfield Fire Department’s ability to respond an initial full alarm within the 8 minute standard. The results are summarized in the table below.


Download the map in a printable PDF format.


Interpretting the Results

The above map indicates those areas where the Mansfield Fire Department is capable of assembling the units assigned to a full alarm incident within 8 minutes under current  staffing and deployment scenarios.  Full Alarm is the term given to a fire department response to a residential structure, or an emergency that requires only a single alarm response (as opposed to a second or third alarm).  These maps depict a full alarm response consisting of three engines, one ladder, one rescue, and one Assistant Chief.  Under current conditions, the Fire Department is capable of responding to 48% of City roads within 8 minutes, assuming all units were staffed and available to respond immediately upon dispatch.


The following output table indicate the 8 minute coverage breakdown by each Engine company district:


Table 1: 8 Minute Initial Full Alarm Coverage – Current Deployment and Organization

Fire District

Total Street Length (ft)

Total Streets Covered in 8 Minutes (ft)

% of Streets Covered in 8 Minutes


























The preceding map and table shows that compliance with the 8 minute standard was well below the 90% threshold of compliance for NFPA 1710. This paltry compliance rate means that essential task established in the NFPA’s task analysis will be delayed leading to greater fire damage and unsafe working conditions for the fire fighters operating at the scene.


NFPA 1710 and Staffing the Initial Full Alarm

Not only does the Mansfield Fire Department fail to meet the response time objectives outlined by NFPA 1710 for the initial full alarm assignment, but the personnel that assembles as part of the initial alarm for the Mansfield Fire Department also falls below the NFPA’s standard. Under the current and proposed deployment models, between 12-14 fire fighters respond on the initial full alarm, depending on the location of the incident.  NFPA requires that the aforementioned tasks to be completed by the initial full alarm assignment have adequate personnel assigned to them.[1]


Incident Command

1 Supervisor (IC),  1 Aide (Safety, Accountability Officer)

Water Supply

1 Fire Fighter

Attack Hoseline

3 Fire Fighters

Back-up Hoseline

3 Fire Fighters

Search and Rescue

2 Fire Fighters


2 Fire Fighters

Initial Rapid Intervention Crew

2 Fire Fighters

Total Personnel Required

15 Fire Fighters


This breakdown of the expected capabilities of a full alarm assignment, in compliance with NFPA Standard 1710, requires a minimum contingent of fifteen fire suppression personnel, including the Incident Commander (IC) and the IC’s aide[2], to arrive at the scene of a structure fire within 8 minutes of receiving the alarm.[3]


NFPA 1710 Initial Full Alarm Assignment Deployed Within 8 Minutes


Furthermore, Initial Full Alarm Assignment Capability, as outlined in NFPA Standard 1710, recommends that a minimum contingent of seventeen fire suppression personnel, including the Incident Commander (IC) and the IC’s aide,[4] arrive at the scene of a structure fire within 8 minutes of receiving the alarm when an aerial device is to be put into operation. 


In order for the Mansfield Fire Department to meet the NFPA Standard for the required personnel to assemble as part of the initial full alarm, staffing needs to be increased on all engine and ladder companies to 4 fire fighters or additional units need to be dispatched as part of the initial assignment to ensure adequate personnel are available to accomplish the required tasks.


[1] NFPA 1710, § and §, (1) – (8)

[2] NFPA 1710, §

[3] It should be noted that a minimum on-scene contingent of seventeen fire suppression personnel are required by NFPA Standard 1710 when a second pump and an aerial device are in operation at the incident scene.

[4] NFPA 1710, §

The Importance of Adequate Staffing

Conducting Safe and Effective Fire Suppression and Rescue Operations:


A prime objective of fire service agencies is to maintain enough strategically located personnel and equipment so that the minimum acceptable response force can reach a reasonable number of fire scenes before flashover is likely. Two of the most important elements in limiting fire spread are the quick arrival of sufficient numbers of personnel and equipment to attack and extinguish the fire as close to the point of origin as possible, as well as rescue any trapped occupants and care for the injured.  Rapid and aggressive interior attack of structure fires, as close as possible to the point of origin, can reduce human and property losses.  Sub-optimal staffing of arriving units may delay such an attack, thus allowing the fire to progress to more dangerous conditions for fire fighters and civilians.  “If the arriving units have adequate resources to handle the situation, then they will fight the fire aggressively and offensively.  They will attack the problem head-on and, following department standards, will accomplish their objectives efficiently, effectively, and safely.  If they do not have adequate resources to aggressively handle the situation, then they will have to fight the fire in a defensive mode of attack.  This mode will continue until enough resources can be massed to then change to an aggressive, offensive attack.”[1] 

[1] National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, High-Rise Apartment Fire Claims the Life of One Career Fire Fighter (Captain) and Injures Another Career Fire Fighter (Captain) – Texas, 13 October 2001