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Fire Station Location


Fire Station Location and the

Impact on Travel Time Performance in the

Newport Beach Fire Department

Paul D. Matheis

Newport Beach Fire Department

Newport Beach, California

An applied research project submitted to the National Fire Academy as part of the Executive Fire Officer Program

September 2009

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The problem was the Newport Beach Fire Department (NBFD) had not conducted a

study of its compliance with the NBFD response time objectives policy. Over time, the city had

grown geographically, realizing an increase in population and building development without a

formal plan for the fire defensive and medical response network. An understanding of what

NBFD engine companies had achieved, versus the policy expectations relative to first-due unit

travel time and the implications faced when exceeding the NBFD standard was needed.

Furthermore, the areas of the city that were not in compliance with the response time objectives

were unknown.

This purpose of this study was to evaluate the performance of NBFD engine companies

relative to the response time objectives for first-due response. Using descriptive research through

interviews of subject matter experts and data analysis, the researcher was able to answer the

following questions: Can the NBFD meet the response time objectives policy for first-due engine

companies? What areas of the city are at increased risk due to the distance from a fire station and

an extended travel time? What opportunities exist to improve first-due performance of the travel

time component of the response time objectives policy? The results showed that older areas of

the city met the policy objectives. However, longer travel time figures were found in two

outlying areas and the newest region of the city. An inability to use the computer aided dispatch

system to capture data on the travel time of responding units complicated the study.

The relocation of NBFD fire stations one, two, three and five would improve travel time

expectations across the city. However, the addition of a ninth fire station at Crystal Heights

would ensure coverage of the entire city in compliance with the NBFD response time objectives


Fire Station Location


Table of Contents



Abstract …………………………………………………………


Introduction ………………………………………………………


Background & Significance ……………………………………


Literature Review…………………………………………………




Results ……………………………………………………………


Discussion………………………………………………………… 27



Reference List…………………………………………………….


Appendix A - Begnell Interview…………



Appendix B - Coleman Interview……….……………………….


Appendix C – Travel Time ……



Appendix D – Response Time Objectives Policy……………….


Appendix E - MCFA Year End Report ………………………….


Appendix G Campagnolo Interview …………………………


Appendix H – Murphy Interview ………………………………


Fire Station Location


Fire Station Location and the Impact on Travel Time Performance

In the Newport Beach Fire Department

Across the United States, the rapid development of commercial and residential properties

can outpace a community’s ability to provide efficient public fire service delivery. Newport

Beach is one area where new construction and land annexations have occurred without adequate

planning for the delivery of fire protection resources. The problem is the Newport Beach Fire

Department (NBFD) had not conducted a study of its compliance with the NBFD response time

objectives policy. During the lifetime of the organization, the city had grown geographically,

realizing an increase in population and building development without a formal plan for the fire

defensive and medical response network. Specifically, in the newly developed areas of this city,

the NBFD cannot meet the travel time component of the response time objectives policy. The

outcome of this is an elevated level of risk in the newly annexed communities because of

extended travel time due to the distance from a fire station.

The purpose of this project is to evaluate the performance of NBFD engine companies

relative to the NBFD response time objectives policy for first-due, travel time response. The

descriptive research method was used to answer the following questions: Can the NBFD meet

the travel time component of the response time objectives policy for first-due engine companies?

What areas of the city are at increased risk due to the distance from a fire station and an extended

travel time? What opportunities exist to improve first-due performance of the travel time

component of the response time objectives policy?

This study will compare the current fire station locations in Newport Beach with the

established standard response time of the National Fire Protection Association standard 1710 and

the NBFD policy on travel time, NBFD SOP 3.A.201.03 (2004). Additionally, other, similar

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organizations that have addressed the same problem will be studied. This research will develop

information to optimize the location of the fire stations throughout Newport Beach. The

information will be used to improve the response capability from each fire station in an effort to

meet the travel time component, for first-due companies, of NBFD policy and reduce the risk in

the under-protected communities that experience extended travel time. This rebalancing of fire

station locations is important for a number of reasons. First, the city is about to embark on a

modernization of the current fire facilities, and the funding of a new facility in the proper

location may be important to the City Council and the citizens. Second, the objective is to

provide each community in the city with service that meets the organizational policy as identified

in the response time objectives as well as to improve service and reduce risk.

Background and Significance

The City of Newport Beach is located in southern California about 50 miles south of Los

Angeles. It covers 25 square miles of land and an additional 15 square miles of bay and

oceanfront. The residential permanent population is estimated to be 86,000, increasing to

100,000 during the summer months. During peak and holiday periods, up to 200,000 additional

people visit the beaches daily. Furthermore, employment and retail centers experience an influx

of visitors on a daily basis throughout the year (City of Newport Beach Public Information

Office, 2009).

Over the years the NBFD has grown with the expanding geography and population of

Newport Beach. The NBFD was established in 1911 (City of Newport Beach Public Information

Office) by a vote of the Council, and today there are eight firehouses staffed by 39 firefighters

twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. The fire stations house eight engine companies, two

truck companies, three paramedic ambulances and one battalion chief command vehicle. The

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NBFD is a signatory to the California Master Mutual Aid Agreement and maintains automatic-

aid response agreements with all the contiguous fire service agencies. This automatic aid

agreement is supported and enhanced by a computer aided dispatch (CAD) CAD-to-CAD

interface that maintains up to date unit status and availability in real time. In 2008, the problem

became apparent when the NBFD answered nearly 10,000 calls for service with about 10% of

those outside the city proper, with an average response time of 4 minutes, 28 seconds. (Refer to

Appendix E.)

Historically, in Newport Beach, the location of fire stations was based on an unknown

schedule of priorities that has resulted in uneven coverage and areas of increased risk, creating a

serious problem and potentially increasing the number of preventable deaths and injuries. To

date, NBFD has not conducted a study of its compliance with the NBFD response time

objectives policy. The ramification of not conducting a compliance study of response times is the

impact it has on policy. For a policy to be effective, proper management control is imperative.

The information gained from this study can be used to more efficiently locate fire company

resources, to properly locate new fire stations, and to relocate existing fire stations.

Newport Beach has an active and involved electorate. There are over 160 community

associations and over 43,000 registered voters in this city of 86,000 residents (City of Newport

Beach Public Information Office). These residents have an expectation of high quality public

services and responsiveness from elected officials on quality of life issues (General Plan, 2006).

The quality of pre-hospital emergency medical care and efficient fire emergency services are part

of this standard of expectation. The possible consequences of a lack of management oversight

concerning these issues are public dissatisfaction and litigation due to the untoward outcomes of

extended response times.

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This study is necessary to meet the community expectations of a responsive government.

This is especially important in Newport Beach, where the electorate is very active in the shaping

of local government response to issues concerning the quality of life. This study addresses the

National Fire Academy Leading Community Risk Reduction text and risk assessment in unit two

(Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA], 2007), and the United States Fire

Administration (USFA) operational goals of responding in a timely manner to emerging issues,

(Federal Emergency Management Agency, 2008).

Literature Review

One marker of quality medical care is the ability of an EMS provider to meet the

stringent response times for basic life support (BLS) and advanced life support (ALS) responses.

These markers are four minutes for BLS arrival and eight minutes for ALS response (Pons,

Haukoos, Bludworth, & Cribley, 2005). Much of this standard was based on studies of victims of

cardiac arrest, which account for less than one percent of calls in most EMS systems (Pons et

al.). The concept of the importance of time has been a prominent topic in the trauma literature

since World War II, with the idea of a golden hour speaking to the importance of time and the

outcome of a trauma patient (Carr, Caplan, Pryor & Branas, 2006). Although a “faster is better”

mindset is common in the fire service, there is a balance as to what can be afforded by a

community (Center for Public Safety Excellence, 2008). The positive outcome associated with a

rapid response develops up until the point that further additional cost does not dramatically

increase the benefit (Pareto Principle as stated in Center for Public Safety Excellence, 2008).

One approach is to research criteria recognized as important in the intervention of medical

emergencies as well as fire suppression capabilities (Center for Public Safety Excellence). Two

standards used in the fire service are the Insurance Services Office (ISO), Fire Suppression

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Rating Schedule (FSRS) Public Protection Classification (PPC), and the National Fire Protection

(NFPA) standard 1710. The ISO measures the major elements of a city’s fire suppression system

to assess risk (ISO, 2004). The rating schedule is used as a tool for insurance purposes; however,

the fire service uses some of these ISO methods and formulas when measuring performance and

capability of a fire department. One of these performance measurements is the travel time of

apparatus calculation that was developed by the RAND Corporation, i.e., Time =

0.65+1.7*Distance (ISO, 2009). This formula is used to provide an average velocity for fire

apparatus response estimation, and considers terrain, weather, traffic, and intersection crossing

(ISO). Additionally, another recommendation from the ISO is the distance from a fire station to

the built upon area of a city, to be 1.5 road miles (ISO). This equation can be used to calculate

the achievable distance, within a given time frame, from a fire station to all of the geographic

area within a given fire station’s area of responsibility. The sum of the 1.5 mile travel distance

and the equation computes to a 3.2 minute response time (ISO). The greater the distance, the

longer it will take for the first fire company to arrive safely at the scene and begin suppression

efforts. Further, lengthy response times are a function of a point of dispatch and the driving

distance (Costa Mesa Fire Department [CMFD] Final Draft Report, 2007). Relative to travel

time, the NFPA has a standard travel time of four minutes, or 240 seconds. However, the

criterion used to arrive at this figure is not noted in the text of the standard. A study in a fire

district outside of Portland, Oregon, looked at the benefit of using geographic information

systems to evaluate cardiac survival. Responding to patients in cardiac arrest is a time sensitive

emergency activity and using GIS to send the nearest fire company may have a positive impact

on survival. The hypothesis in this study was that cardiac arrest survival may be affected by

whether the incident was responded to by the first-due apparatus versus the second-due apparatus

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(Warden, Daya, & LeGrady, 2007). In the Costa Mesa report, it is stated that emergency calls for

service that exceed a travel time of 10 minutes can result in criticism of the department (CMFD

Final Draft Report).

Other Similar Research

In the Costa Mesa Fire Department (CMFD) study on fire station coverage for the city, an

evaluation of the idea of the benefit of relocating a fire station or adding an additional fire station

was completed by Emergency Services Consulting, incorporated (CMFD Final Draft Report,

2007). In this study, GIS software was used to calculate the estimated response travel time

performance against the CMFD emergency response standard (four minutes, 80% of the time),

and illustrate the polygon on a map of the city. This display was able to illustrate the travel time

in the current system and plot potential sites for both a relocated station as well as an additional

fire station (CMFD Final Draft Report). Furthermore, relocating a fire station will create great

interest in the community and some form of outreach will be necessary to deliver the plan and

gauge acceptance (Coleman, personal communication, April, 2009). The Orange County Fire

Authority (OCFA), in planning for new community coverage as well in as designing plans to

cover existing cities, uses a four minute response for the first due company, 80% of the time as a

standard. When starting with an entirely new community, the plan can be tailored to address the

master planned developments commonly seen in Orange County, California. This can be more

challenging when a request to service an established city and all of the associated challenges is

presented. If the service request includes a station closure the problems extend beyond

operational and become political (Begnell, personal communication, March, 2009). The New

York City Fire Department (FDNY), as part of their strategic plan to improve emergency

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response operations, installed automatic vehicle locators (AVL) in 388 ambulances. This led to a

reduction in response times (FDNY Strategic Plan, 2007).

In July, 2005, the City of Scottsdale, Arizona formed the city’s first municipal fire

department. Shortly after this, the fire chief set a goal of responding to emergencies within four

minutes, 80% of the time. The reasons cited for this effort were to get to the scene faster and

provide a better outcome for the residents and their loved ones. It noted that brain damage can

occur in 4-6 minutes without oxygen and a fire can double in size in the time it takes to brush

your teeth, or about two minutes. To accomplish this, the Scottsdale Fire Department relocated

three fire stations and added a station two and eight. Furthermore, as noted in the Scottsdale

report, a key factor in the reduction of response times is the location of a fire station (“Planning

for the Future”, n.d.).

Importance of Response Time for Firefighters

For everyday emergencies involving a fire, cardiac arrest, stroke or difficulty in

breathing, the rapid response and intervention by fire fighters is of paramount importance in the

outcome of the incident. Flashover, internationally accepted as a major threat to the life of

building occupants and firefighters, is a condition in a growing fire within an enclosed space

when all of the materials suddenly catch fire (Cooke, 2009). The onset of flashover occurs when

the upper layer in a room reaches 900-1100 degrees Fahrenheit (Chen, 2008). Additional minutes

in the arrival time of fire fighters at a structure fire can lead to flashover, the point at which a fire

is not survivable, and can be as short as four to six minutes (Federal Emergency Management

Agency [FEMA], 2009). Since flashover is the point of probable death for victims, the time of

arrival by firefighters to begin operations and intervene must occur before flashover. The growth

of a fire in a structure will eventually lead to the flashover if the hot gases are not vented and the

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fire is not cooled. Furthermore, no one can survive flashover and rooms will flashover, unless

offensive operations have begun, in less than eight minutes (Center for Public Safety Excellence,

2008). Additionally, a study done by the United States Fire Administration (USFA), shows that a

fire in a structure, without suppression actions, will experience roof collapse in less than 17

minutes, regardless of the construction type (FEMA, 2009). Furthermore, following flashover,

the rapid growth of the fire will generate much more heat and require more fire fighters to

combat the blaze due to the rapid growth rate of combustion (Center for Public Safety

Excellence). This magnifies the search and rescue challenge for the remainder of the structure as

well potentially endangering more people. Thus, the distance from a fire station to all points

within that station’s initial response area, or first due, should not be farther than can be safely

driven within the flashover time frame. The purpose of placing firehouses throughout the cities

and communities they protect is based on the need for a rapid response to all emergencies,

whether it is a fire related or a medical emergency. A closer look at the important time frames

helps to identify just how quickly we need to arrive at the scene of a fire or emergency medical

incident for a successful outcome.

Each year fire kills more Americans that all natural disasters combined. Even in well protected

areas, the growth often outpaces the capability of a fire department to keep up with demand. A

research study of the top 500 fire department officials reported 86% growth from 2006-2009 and

75% of those indicated that service delivery was strained due to the growth (ISO, 2004).

Furthermore, an estimated 60-75% of all communities have too few fire stations to meet the ISO

response distance guidelines (ISO).

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Importance of Response Time for Emergency Medical Services

In the United States, sudden cardiac death (SCD) is responsible for the loss of 350,000 to

400,000 lives a year and 90% of these cases occur in patients without previously identified risk

factors (Callans, 2004). About 80% of SCD resulting from cardiac causes occur in the home,

where victims are away from rescue personnel (Callans). Additionally, most victims in cases of

sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) demonstrate ventricular fibrillation (VF) at some point in their arrest

(Hazinski, Chameides, Elling & Hemphill, 2005), and research has shown that resuscitation is

most successful if performed in about the first five minutes after collapse (Hazinski et al.). Left

untreated, cardiac arrest is fatal (Young & Krahn, 2004). Medical rescuers need to arrive in less

than five minutes to defibrillate the heart and start effective CPR (Hazinski et al.). In Reading,

Ohio, a study of victims of out of hospital cardiac arrest was recorded in the Utstein style. In this

study the most significant predictor of survival was whether or not the arrest was witnessed

(Handel, Gallo, Schmidt, & Aaron, 2005).

In Victoria, Australia, a study of 1,790 people who suffered a bystander witnessed

cardiac arrest compared survival rates between rural and urban patients. The major factor

associated with survival at the time of hospital admission was the distance of the closest

ambulance to the emergency scene. Furthermore, the study showed that survival from out of

hospital cardiac arrest is significantly lower in rural areas than in urban areas in Victoria

(Jennings, Cameron, Walker, Bernard & Smith, 2006).

The sudden onset of a heart attack, stroke, obstructed airway, and seizure require the

timely arrival of trained rescue personnel (Young & Krahn, 2004). The most important factor for

success in resuscitation from SCD is time to treatment and specifically defibrillation. Each

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(Callans, 2004). Additionally, an early study done in Seattle demonstrates that first reported

automated external defibrillations (AED) decreased time to defibrillation to 5.1 minutes and

increased survival rates as compared to CPR alone (Callans). Studies show that early access to

defibrillation for victims of SCA is directly linked to survival. Furthermore, there is an

exponential decline in the rate of survival after SCA as the time to defibrillation increases

(Callans). Studies by the American Heart Association and in Ontario, Canada speak to the

importance of early access to EMS system, effective CPR and advanced cardiac life support is

the link to survival (Hazinski et al., 2005; City of Ontario Office of the Fire Marshal, 2004).

The “Golden Hour”

The golden hour of trauma is based on the knowledge that patients with severe injuries

are more likely to survive with rapid treatment, and time to definitive care is a major determinant

in patient outcomes (Carr et al., 2006). This underscores the importance of properly trained

rescuers stationed nearby for rapid response and intervention. Time is a crucial element and a

deciding factor in a successful outcome in the rescue business. Halting the growth of a fire and

removing toxic smoke gases and excessive heat prior to flashover are critical components of a

successful rescue. The speed of a rescue from a structure fire or SCA is that rapid arrival at the

scene can mean the difference between life and death (Center for Public Safety Excellence,

2008; Hazinski et al., 2005).

Rebalancing Newport Beach Fire Station Locations

While there are some variations on the components of what is incorporated in response

time, there is general agreement on the elements of what is the travel time component of

response time. Travel time is illustrated in Figure 1 as a component of total response time.

From the figure, it is clear that there are many separate components that make up response

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time. Simply stated, travel time is the measurement of time from the moment the emergency

fire resource begins to move toward the incident following a dispatch until it arrives at the

incident scene.

Figure 1.

Response time components







On scene

On scene












Dispatch Processing Time

Turnout Time


Travel Time





Insurance Services Office (ISO) Formula

This study plans to use the average velocity for fire apparatus response estimation

formula, i.e., Time = 0.65+1.7*Distance, to predict the estimated speed of fire apparatus over a

distance. The estimates from this calculation will then be used to map road miles traveled from

each NBFD fire station in five minutes time. For example, in five minutes travel time, and at an

average speed of 30 miles per hour, a fire apparatus can travel 2.5 road miles.

Study Procedures

Interviews were conducted with experts in the field of fire station location and standards

of coverage. Battalion Chief Gene Begnell, a long-term member of the strategic services section

of the OCFA and currently a consultant in the location of fire stations and standards of coverage,

and Ronny J. Coleman of Emergency Services Consulting, Inc., a former California state fire

marshal and fire chief, were contacted for assistance in the discovery of information relative to

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standards of coverage. Information was obtained from these informants to determine the existing

standards for the travel time component of response time in the fire service industry, and the

implications of various outcomes. Interviews conducted with Dan Campagnolo, systems

administrator in the Newport Beach Planning Department and Rod Murphy, supervisor in the

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Department provided the number of dwelling units,

population, and assessed valuation within each first-due area of the eight fire stations. For lists of

interview questions, see Appendixes A, B, G and H.

A table was developed with the information obtained through interviews to compare the

assessed valuation, population, number of dwelling units, annual call volume, road miles

covered, and area in square miles covered by each of the eight fire stations. This comparison is

important because each fire station is established to protect the emergency needs of the people as

well as the structural development and infrastructure. If any fire station covers too much area of

responsibility, as measured in square mileage, the ability to reach all areas of the first-due

response area within the NBFD policy of five minute travel time will be challenged due to the

length of travel from the nearest fire station.

During the interview with BC Begnell, important information was discovered about what

technical information should be considered when choosing a fire station site. The use of

fractional standards, combined with the known call volume, will provide an estimation of the

ability of a single engine company to meet the standard due to availability. Furthermore, with

staffing of three on an engine company, as is the case in Newport Beach, the second due

company with firefighters should arrive at the two minute mark. This is important due to the

requirement of four firefighters on the scene prior to offensive operations (Procedures for

Interior Structural Firefighting, n.d.). With three firefighters on the scene, the reflex time for the

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initial company to secure a water supply, hand line and force entry before entering the

immediately dangerous to life and health (IDLH) atmosphere is about two minutes (Gene

Begnell, personal communication, March 10, 2009). Chief Begnell, a former training coordinator

from the NBFD, has firsthand knowledge of Newport Beach and was able to synthesize the data

and provide insight. Begnell spoke about the critical task analysis that he had helped to assess for

the OCFA on firefighter time to task completion on the fire ground and how that impacts not

only first-due companies, but also the second-due companies as well. This is important as it

relates to the NFPA 1710 standard and the Occupational Safety Health Administration (OSHA)

two-in/two-out rule requiring four firefighters on-scene prior to offensive operations. In the

OCFA study the second due company was needed at the two minute mark following the first-due

company arrival when operating with three person company staffing so that additional personnel

would arrive at the scene and maintaining fidelity to the 2-in/2-out rule. This is because, in the

OCFA study, the reflex time to place a hose line in service was never faster than two minutes

(Gene Begnell, personal communication, March 10, 2009). As a result of this information, it was

important to evaluate the distance of each single company firehouse that was positioned near the

ocean shoreline, as the next due could only respond from one direction. Furthermore, the stations

on the Balboa Peninsula, due to their isolation on a narrow strip of land, had to ensure that this

information was incorporated into the fire station site chosen for stations one (Balboa) and two

(Lido). Ron Coleman discussed the influence of a community on the fire station site (Ron

Coleman, personal communication). Newport Beach has many active community organizations

and any fire station movement is likely to be closely scrutinized. Coleman stated that people do

not like an established fire station moved out of a community and that the placement of a fire

station in an established community was controversial as well. This information would be

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important in the community outreach process involving any station relocation plan in the City of

Newport Beach.

Data was also collected from Rod Murphy of the Newport Beach GIS Department, which

provided information about the number of road miles and square miles covered within the

designated first-due area of each existing fire station. Murphy used the Newport Beach GIS to

map the city, illustrating the current location of each existing firehouse with a polygon

demonstrating the area of coverage. These maps illustrate the coverage potential of each

individual fire station based on the ISO formula for total road miles achievable in five minutes of

travel time. Using this type of graphic, the reader can easily recognize those areas where the

current Newport Beach fire stations overlap in coverage. This graphic also shows the areas that

are too far from a fire station and outside of the policy objectives for travel time, therefore

subjecting citizens and property to increased risk. This data was used when locating a fire station

site by finding a location that either had a small area and population outside of the travel time

zone or, with an additional fire station, covered the entire city using the GIS mapping


The ISO calculation for travel time, i.e., Time = 0.65+1.7*Distance, was used to map the

distance each firehouse is able to cover based on the NBFD travel time policy of five minutes for

the first arriving company. The maps were reviewed and assessed for areas outside the

performance standard of five minutes for travel time, as well as for opportunities for relocation.

These illustrations of fire station coverage were used to identify the geographical area of the city

protected within the NBFD policy, and the area of the city too far from a fire station to meet the

travel time standard.

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The relocation of a fire station will involve a number of facets that are difficult to evaluate

without actually engaging in the process. The acceptance by the community and how that would

impact the final decision by the political body are a large factor in a community like Newport

Beach. Furthermore, a simulated outreach plan regarding a topic that would be so important to

the community is not possible without creating undue concern. Additionally, the travel time

formula for speed over a distance is a calculation and an estimation of fire apparatus

performance. This formula was developed by the RAND Corporation in the early 1970s and has

not been modified for the more powerful modern fire apparatus and high speed road systems of

today. However, recent validation studies by the ISO still support this equation as a predictive

tool (ISO, 2009). Finally, there are many gated communities in Newport Beach, and private

streets with speed bumps used to slow traffic. These traffic calming measures are not part of the

travel time calculation. However, weather, traffic, grade and intersection crossings are included

in the formula (ISO).


Interview data from Dan Campagnolo of the Newport Beach Planning Department and

Rod Murphy of the Newport Beach GIS Department is shown in Table 1. Table 1 illustrates the

area of responsibility of each of the eight fire stations in their current location. This is based on

the first-due response district, or the unit that would be initially assigned within a geographic

first-due district if all of the resources were available. Knowledge of how much area and

responsibility is covered by each fire station is important when rebalancing fire station locations.

If a station has low values of responsibility on the factors noted in Table 1 then it is likely that

the fire station can handle more of the workload from a nearby fire station. A review of this table

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shows a wide gap in responsibility between the Newport Beach fire stations in square mileage,

assessed valuation, number of dwelling units, road miles covered, and population protected.

Each of the values in the table provides essential information for understanding the

various firefighting threats and emergency needs of Newport Beach. Assessed valuation

indicates the monetary worth of the residential or business structural development cost within a

first-due area of a fire station. This can be related to the replacement cost if a fire of significance

were to become established in this district. Total road miles, the number of road miles within the

first-due district of a given fire station, are important when calculating the expected activity for

the resources stationed within that facility. Square miles is important because the overall size of

the geographical area captured within the fire station’s first-due is related to how much space

will need to be driven to reach all parts of that district and is related to travel time. Dwelling

units refers to the housing total within the first-due district of each fire station. This indicator is

important for both understanding the estimated population and the expected medical call volume.

The number of people or population within the first-due district of each station will impact the

volume of calls for emergency service. More people will generally equal more calls for service

(Center for Public Safety Excellence, 2008). Emergency call volume and type helps one to

understand the emergency call history for service activity of a fire station’s first-due response

district. This is important when considering the relocation of a fire station. If the activity level is

exceptionally high, it will then be important to gain information on other elements of the

emergency responses, i.e., the locations of the fires or emergency medical calls during the

relocation discussion (Center for Public Safety Excellence).

The data in Table 1 clearly depicts the gap between the area of coverage in square miles,

population within the first-due response district, total number of road miles covered, value of the

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structural development, amount of building stock in dwelling units, and annual call volume of

the fire stations. The difference between the station with the smallest coverage area, Fire Station

One (Balboa), and the largest area of coverage, Fire Station Eight (Newport Coast), is nearly a

factor of 11. There is wide disparity in the value of the structural development between stations

one and eight, with the latter protecting nearly seven times more structural value. Furthermore,

the gap between road miles covered and annual call volume is significant, with station one

(Balboa) covering the least and responding the least, protecting 21.44 road miles and answering

528 calls in year 2008, and station five (Corona Del Mar) with the most road miles protected at

75.75 miles, and the engine company at fire station two (Lido) responding to 1,775 calls in year


Table 1

Newport Beach Fire Station Demographics within Standard Policy Guidelines











units, res.

value $USD


call vol.




CY 2008











































Del Mar)


























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The number of road miles is an estimate of the coverage ability in five minutes time and

is based on the RAND calculation demonstrated in Appendix C. Maps were created using the

current location of each existing firehouse and the distance each firehouse is able to cover using

the ISO calculation for travel time and based on the NBFD travel time standard of five minutes.

Figure 2 is a map of the current fire station locations and indicates the distance that each

individual fire company would be able to travel in five minutes. Five minutes travel time is the

NBFD response time objectives policy standard that was established to provide timely

intervention in case of fire or medical emergency. In Figure 2, each of the three areas which are

unreachable from a Newport Beach fire station within the NBFD policy for travel time are

labeled A, B, and C. The development name that corresponds to “A” is Newport Terrace, “B” is

Port Streets/Harbor Ridge, and “C” is the Crystal Heights development. As an answer to the first

question, “can the NBFD meet the response time objectives policy for the first-due Engine

Company?” Figure 2 clearly indicates that the existing fire station locations are not covering

three key locations in the five minute travel time standard. Furthermore, to answer the second

question, “what areas of the city are at increased risk due to the distance from a fire station and

extended travel time?” The areas of increased risk are labeled as A, B, and C in Figure 2.

Figure 3 illustrates a possible solution for relocating the current stations. This figure

shows the relocation of four NBFD stations to maximize coverage, utility, and to reduce risk to

the under protected areas of the city. In Figure 3, stations one (Balboa), two (Lido), three

(Newport Center) and five (Corona Del Mar) are moved from their current locations to sites

where the location is promising relative to travel time and the land is vacant. It would be difficult

to move any station in Newport Beach, and this is further confirmed in my interview with

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Coleman who noted that moving a fire station from within established community is difficult.

However, by maintaining the protection standard and employing a system of community

outreach this may have the desired impact. The interview with Begnell provided knowledge of

second due coverage needs with three members staffing. Furthermore, the GIS data allowed the

researcher to plot the travel time in road miles so to be in compliance with the NBFD standard.

In order to be in compliance with the NBFD standard, station one (Balboa) was moved to 15 th

Street and West Bayfront, station two (Lido) was moved to Superior Avenue and West Coast

Highway, station three (Newport Center) was moved to MacArthur Boulevard and Bonita

Canyon Road, and station five (Corona Del Mar) was moved to Los Trancos and East Coast

Highway. The fire station coverage in Figure 3 was evaluated for the ability to maintain and

enhance coverage. By implementing this plan, more coverage occurs within the NBFD policy

standard for the city in area, population and structural value. Unfortunately, even with this plan,

there are still areas not properly covered in the city. As indicated in Figure 3, a section of upper

Crystal Heights, area C, was unable to meet the NBFD travel time policy and a small section of

Corona Del Mar, area D, developed a gap outside the standard. Although this provided a

welcome improvement in efficiency, it still does not fully answer the entire travel response time

and community risk problem. Additionally, it creates a travel response time coverage problem

for a small portion of Corona Del Mar that previously did not exist.

Figure 4 presents another solution to the community risk protection problem in Newport

Beach. In Figure 4, it depicts an added ninth fire station at Reef Point Drive and East Coast

Highway. This additional fire station, positioned at the base of the Crystal Heights development,

enhances the coverage for this development due to its proximity to the residential and

commercial properties. This proximity equates to less travel time and a more rapid overall

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response time. Again, as demonstrated in Figure 4, almost all areas of the city are covered by

NBFD fire stations and comply with the travel response time policy. The exception in this figure

is the Newport Terrace community, area A; however, this is successfully managed via an

automatic-mutual aid agreement with the CMFD whereby their nearby fire stations respond as

first-due resources (ISO). The final question, “what opportunities exist to improve first-due

performance of the travel time component of the response time objectives policy?” This is

addressed in the maps shown in Figure 3 and 4. In Figure 3, by relocating fire station 3 (Newport

Center) and fire station 5 (Corona Del Mar) we are able to cover a larger area of the city in five

minutes travel time. However, there are still under protected areas labeled A, C, D. In figure

four, with the addition of a ninth fire station in Crystal Heights, the entire city can be covered in

five minutes travel time via the relocation of fire stations 1(Balboa), 2 (Lido), 3 (Newport

Center) and this additional station.

The use of AVL to send the nearest available fire company, based on longitude and latitude, is

something that can provide an efficiency in the dynamic setting. Furthermore, the value of an

AVL is likely to be demonstrated in a large city with a street pattern based on a grid system.

Because the Newport Beach street system is not based on a grid pattern, and the relatively low

call volume in the areas seen in this report as needing enhanced coverage, it is not likely that

AVL alone would answer the problem.

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Figure 2

Map of current station locations

Fire Station Location 24 Figure 2 Map of current station locations

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Figure 3

Map of proposed station relocations

Fire Station Location 25 Figure 3 Map of proposed station relocations

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Figure 4

Map of proposed station relocations and one additional station

Fire Station Location 26 Figure 4 Map of proposed station relocations and one additional station

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Newport Beach has several topographical and geographic barriers across the land mass,

including the Pacific Ocean and the Upper Newport Bay, that make covering this community for

fire and EMS delivery more challenging. This study examined the capability of the eight fire

stations that protect Newport Beach and its residents from fire and medical emergencies. In order

to examine the response time efficiency of the NBFD stations, it was important to determine the

important element used to assess the efficiency such as response time. Through informant

interviews and data analysis, total response time was determined to have three components;

dispatch processing time, turnout time, and travel time (G. Begnell, personal communication,

March 10, 2009; R. Coleman, personal communication, April 9, 2009). Furthermore, an industry

calculation was used to evaluate each station’s current coverage (ISO, 2009). This study also

investigated options to increase fire station utility to enhance coverage while keeping travel time

within policy guidelines (R. Murphy, personal communication, May 5, 2009). Challenges to

implementing options will be discussed.

The study’s findings regarding response time indicate that the NBFD has a number of fire

stations that are closely spaced together, as well as areas of the city that are too far from a fire

station to meet the response time objectives (NBFD SOP 3.A.201.03, 2004). The outcome of the

current situation is that there is a wide disparity between different areas of the city regarding

community risk. Some areas, by virtue of numerous and closely spaced fire stations, receive a

high degree of overlapping coverage. Other sections of Newport Beach are a long distance from

a fire station and are at greater risk following a fire or medical emergency (FEMA, 2007). If a

fire station is covering too great an area, or if the volume of emergency calls becomes too great,

it will be difficult for that company to meet the response time objectives (Center for Public

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Safety Excellence, 2008). This is because the average time that an engine company is on an

emergency call is about 30 minutes (Costa Mesa Fire Department [CMFD] Final Draft Report,

2007). If you compute the number of calls and the time of commitment, the chances increase for

the primary company to still be committed to an earlier call when another emergency request is

received. This is seen when a standard of performance in fractal terms, i.e., 90%, is established.

The increase in call volume will come to a point where it will not be possible for a single

company to be available for every emergency call. Because the standard in the NBFD is 90% of

the time, this is estimated to be at about 1800 calls per year (Center for Public Safety Excellence,

2008). When the primary company is committed, another fire station will be assigned to handle

the subsequent emergency response calls. The calls that are handled by another fire station will

most likely travel more distance to the emergency scene and therefore, can be expected to

experience longer travel time (Warden, Daya, & LeGrady, 2007; “Planning for the Future”, n.d.).

Finally, if the first-due area covered by a fire station is geographically too large, the travel time

will be longer and the outcome will be similar in fashion to the multiple simultaneous call

scenario mentioned previously (ISO, 2004).

The two fire station location options presented in this study partially resolve the existing

problem by either relocating the stations closer to all areas of the city or by adding a station to

address a specific area of coverage. This is important, because to meet the objectives of the travel

time policy of the NBFD it is necessary to limit travel distance to some degree and to be able to

intervene in instances of SCD as well as prior to flashover a fire engine must arrive in a timely

fashion (Callans, 2004; Cooke, 2009). By placing a fire station close to the site of a potential

emergency the NBFD is able to control the travel time component of total response time

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The challenges to implementing the relocation plan illustrated in Figure 3 are formidable.

However, most of the associated problems will be limited to community concern. Of the four

levels of review, technical, operational, financial and policy (Center for Public Safety

Excellence, 2008), only the final decision will be a significant hurdle. Newport Beach is a very

well established city with many active community organizations with high voter registration and

voting rates. In this solution it is proposed to move a fire station from part of a community to

another, thus enhancing service for some at the expense of another. Historically, whenever a plan

to move or modify the services from a public facility is presented a great deal of feedback is

received by the City Council. It is likely that some of this can be addressed with town hall style

meetings (Costa Mesa Fire Department [CMFD] Final Draft Report, 2007). However, once the

issue enters the political arena it is difficult to predict the outcome. The challenges to

implementing the plan presented in Figure 4 are similar to the aforementioned but with the added

cost of a new facility. This is significant as the property value in Newport Beach is perhaps some

of the most expensive in California and the added and on-going personnel costs to establish a fire

company from the date of opening into the foreseeable future are significant.


The data from the informant interviews, and from the table and figures, helped develop a

set of recommendations to assist with the implementation of the fire station relocation plan in

Figure 4. These recommendations will eliminate gaps in the NBFD station coverage and

maintain fidelity to the policy standard of five minutes travel time. Toward that end, the

following recommendations should be implemented to reduce travel time to the under protected

areas of Newport Beach;

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1. Develop a written plan to relocate the four fire stations, One (Balboa), Two

(Lido), Three (Newport Center), and Five (Corona Del Mar).

2. Organize a plan of community outreach via town hall meetings to deliver the

information to the public and gauge community support.

3. Identify a suitable location for a ninth fire station or engage the Orange County

Fire Authority in the discussion of a jointly funded fire station to serve the Crystal

Heights area of Newport Beach and the Emerald Bay area of unincorporated

Orange County.

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Reference List

Callans, D. (2004).Out of hospital cardiac arrest - the solution is shocking. The New England Journal of Medicine. 351, 632-635.

Carr, B. G., Caplan, J. M., Pryor, J. P., & Branas, C. C. (2006, April). A meta-analysis of prehospital care times for trauma. Prehospital Emergency Care, 10 (2), 198-206.

Center for Public Safety Excellence. (2008). CFAI Standards of Cover (5th ed.) [Brochure]. Chantilly, VA: Author.

Chen, F. (2008). Fire scene reconstruction using computer modeling. Fire Protection Engineering, 38, 18-25.

City of Newport Beach. (2006). General plan. Retrieved June 30, 2009 from

City of Newport Beach Public Information Office. Retrieved January 15, 2009, from City of Newport Beach Web site:

City of Ontario Office of the Fire Marshal. (2004). Public fire safety guidelines. Retrieved April 25, 3009 from

Cooke, G. (2009, February). The threat of flashover. Fire Safety Engineering, 16(1), 31-33.

Emergency Services Consulting, inc. (2007). Costa Mesa fire department final report 2007 deployment review. Costa Mesa, CA: Author.

Federal Emergency Management Agency. (2009). Decision making for initial company operations, unit 6 (1 st ed.). Emmitsburg, MD: Author.

Federal Emergency Management Agency. (2008, March). Executive fire officer program operational policies and procedures. Emmitsburg, MD: Author.

Federal Emergency Management Agency. (2007, February). Leading community risk reduction, unit 2: Assessing community risk (1 st ed.). Emmitsburg, MD: Author.

Fire Department of New York. (2007). Fdny strategic plan. Retrieved April 14, 2009 from

Hazinski, M.F., Chameides, L., Elling, B., & Hemphill, R. (Eds.) (2005). American heart association guidelines for cardiopulmonary resuscitation and emergency cardiovascular care. Hagerstown, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

ISO. (2004). Effective Fire Protection (1 st ed.) [Brochure]. Jersey City, NJ: Author.

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ISO (2009). Automatic Aid. Retrieved September 10, 2009 from http:

ISO (2009). Criteria for Distribution of Companies. Retrieved September 10, 2009 from http:

ISO (2009). Response Time Considerations. Retrieved September 10, 2009 from http:

National Fire Protection Association. (2004). NFPA 1710 [Brochure]. Salt Lake City, UT:

National Fire Protection Association.

NBFD SOP 3.A.201.03 (2004).

Procedures for Interior Structural Firefighting, 29 C.F.R. § 1910.134(g)(4) (n.d.). Retrieved September 10, 2009 from


Pons, P. T., Haukoos, J. S., Bludworth, W., & Cribley, T. (2005, July). Paramedic response time: does it affect patient survival? Academic Emergency Medicine, 12(7), 594-600.

Scottsdale Fire Department. (n.d.). Planning for the future. Retrieved May 1, 2009 from

Warden, C. R., Daya, M., LeGrady, L. (2007, January). Using geographic information systems to evaluate cardiac arrest survival. Prehospital Emergency Care, 11(1), 19-24.

Young, B. & Krahn, A. (2004, November 20). Implications of defibrillation. The Lancet, 364(9448), 1836-1837.

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Appendix A

Informant Interview

Name: Battalion Chief Gene Begnell Organization: Orange County Fire Authority Date of Interview: March 10, 2009 Format of Interview: Via telephone, pencil and paper

During the interview, I asked the following questions:

1. How should I look at first-due company coverage?

2. What are the measurements?

3. What is the data to be reviewed?

4. What are the industry standards?

5. Does call volume impact first-due response time?

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Appendix B

Informant Interview

Name: Ronny J. Coleman Business: Emergency Services Consulting, Inc. Date of Interview: April 9, 2009 Format of Interview: Via telephone, pencil and paper

I spoke with Mr. Coleman, retired California state fire marshal, regarding the optimal locating of fire stations within a response area. During the interview, I asked the following questions:


What are the considerations involved in the proper placement of a fire station?


Are there industry standards? What are they?


Should a target hazard impact the location of a fire station within the “first-due” response


4. How does the Santa Ana fire Department/National Institute of Standards and Technology

study impact the knowledge base on flashover?

5. Are there other issues that will impact the final location of a fire station? What are they?

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Appendix C































NFPA Travel Time











NBFD Travel Time



























































































Where T=0.65+1.7*Distance.

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Appendix D

Policy 3.A.201 Response Time Objectives

The sudden onset of chest pain, the discovery of a fire in its incipient stage, an injury

traffic accident; Time is of the essence. All of these events and others like them create a need for

a safe, effective and expeditious emergency response by Fire Department resources. This is the

basic premise under which we exist; to respond to emergencies in a timely manner. Policy

3.A.100 – Department Goals, the first goal statement in that policy reads: “Provide a safe,

effective and expeditious response to requests for assistance.” Policy 3.A.201 establishes the

Departmental response time objectives for each type of emergency as well as unit performance


It is the primary objective of Department personnel to provide for the most expeditious

response possible to requests for emergency assistance. Every officer is expected to continuously

strive to meet or exceed the objectives outlined in this policy with due regard for the safety of all

personnel and the public. While every officer may not be able to effectively manage all of the

components of response time, each officer should always strive to improve on those components

within their control.



ALS Response the response of those units capable of providing Advanced Life Support


BLS Response the response of those units capable of providing Basic Life Support in

advance of Advanced Life Support treatment by trained Fire Paramedics.

Call Receipt - the moment a 911 request-for-emergency-assistance arrives at a PSAP (or

seven-digit telephone number at the Fire Dispatch Center)

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Dispatch the notification of a response unit(s) by a Dispatch Center that the unit(s) is to

respond to a call.

Dispatch Processing Time the elapsed time from the moment of Call Receipt until the

time the Dispatch Center begins to Dispatch unit(s).

Effective Response Force the appropriate number of personnel and/or units necessary to

handle an emergency at its earliest stages. This would typically be provided through the units

assigned to a first alarm dispatch.

Enroute the time when all responding personnel are properly attired, in the unit seat

with seat belt fastened, and the unit begins to travel towards the alarm destination.

First Due Unit the closest unit to a reported emergency with the capability to provide

the appropriate level of service.

On scene the time when the unit arrive at the scene, in front of the reported building

address or immediately adjacent to an emergency at an outside location.

Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) a designated 911 answering point; specifically

the Newport Beach Police Department PSAP or California Highway Patrol PSAP.

Total Response Time the elapsed time from the moment of Call Receipt until the

appropriate responding unit goes On scene. Total Response Time is broken down into three sub-

components: the Dispatch Processing Time, the personnel Turnout Time, and the unit Travel


Travel Time – the elapsed time from the moment a unit goes “Enroute” until the moment

a unit goes “On scene.”

Turnout Time the elapsed time from Unit Notification until all personnel are prepared

to go Enroute (appropriately attired and in the unit with seat belt fastened).

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Unit Notification the moment when designated units receive a Dispatch.



A. Discovery Time or Alarm Time

The Discovery or Alarm Time component refers to the time it takes for a person or

system to determine there is an emergency that needs to be reported to the Fire department and

then takes the appropriate steps to do so. We do not track this component, as there is no way to

collect and validate the data. However, Department personnel should remain aware that the time

clock for responding to an emergency does not start with the receipt of a 911 call or a dispatch.

This fact illustrates just how important it is to perform at a high level in the other components.

B. Total Response Time

The Newport Beach Fire Department considers Total Response Time a key performance

indicator of how well we are meeting our community’s public safety response needs. This data

provides Department administrators with some of the information necessary to educate and

converse with the City Council on issues of public policy and levels of service. For the purposes

of workload management analysis, Total Response Time is made up of three subcomponents.

1. Dispatch Processing Time: this is the amount of time it takes for a request for an

emergency call (911, seven-digit telephone call or radio transmission) to originate in a

dispatch center, be processed using pre-identified dispatch procedures, and be transmitted

to emergency units for a response assignment. For the Newport Beach Fire Department,

we typically have a 911 call originate in the Newport Beach Police Department P.S.A.P.

Cellular 911 calls are handled initially by the California Highway Patrol P.S.A.P. Once

the P.S.A.P. determines that it is a Fire Department emergency, it transfers the call to

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MetroNet Dispatch Center. Calls that come in on our seven-digit emergency telephone

number go directly to MetroNet Dispatch Center and bypass the P.S.A.P. MetroNet then

verifies the information with the reporting party, enters the information into a Computer

Aided Dispatch (CAD) system, receives a recommendation from the CAD on which units

should respond, and notifies the recommended units via established notification


2. Turnout Time: this is the amount of time it takes for unit personnel, after

receiving a dispatch from MetroNet, to be prepared to go enroute to the emergency.

Typically, once unit personnel are notified of a dispatch, they are to stop any other

activity immediately, travel safely and briskly to their apparatus, don the appropriate

attire, get seated in the apparatus with seat belts fastened, and once all personnel are

complete, go enroute to the emergency.

3. Travel Time: this is the time it takes for a unit to go enroute and travel safely and

expeditiously to the scene of an emergency. Typically, once unit personnel are properly

attired and seat-belted into the apparatus, the officer will press the enroute button on the

Mobile Data Computer. Travel time includes the amount of time necessary for personnel

to use a map book to verify the location and travel route, the actual driving time, and the

amount of time necessary to actually arrive On Scene.



The following are the Department’s Response Time Objectives for Total Response Time

and for the response time sub-components:


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First Due Responses without P.P.E. less than 6 minutes, 50 seconds, 90% of the time


ALS Responses requiring P.P.E. less than 10 minutes, 20 seconds, 90% of the time


ALS Responses without P.P.E. less than 9 minutes, 50 seconds, 90% of the time


Effective Response Force requiring P.P.E. less than 12 minutes, 20 seconds, 90% of the



Effective Response Force without P.P.E. less than 11 minutes, 50 seconds, 90% of the





Dispatch Processing Time Objectives: This component is the management responsibility

of the MetroNet Fire Chiefs and is the supervisory responsibility of the MetroNet Operations

Chiefs. The Newport Beach Fire Department has an expectation that the MetroNet-portion of this

component (the portion that begins with the receipt of a call in the MetroNet Dispatch Center)

will be completed within 50 seconds, 90% of the time and within 90 seconds the remaining 10%

of the time.

2. Turnout Time Objectives: This component is the management responsibility of the shift

Battalion Chief and is the supervisory responsibility of the Company Officer. For dispatches that

require the donning of full Personal Protective attire, turnout time should be completed within 90

seconds. For all other dispatches, turnout time should be completed within 60 seconds.

3. Travel Time Objectives: This component is the management responsibility of the Deputy

Fire Chief and is the supervisory responsibility of the Battalion Chief. For all First Due Units,

travel time should be completed within 5 minutes, 90% of the time and within 10 minutes the

remaining 10% of the time. For ALS responses, travel time should be completed within 8

minutes, 90% of the time and within 10 minutes the remaining 10% of the time. For an Effective

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Response Force, travel time should be completed within 10 minutes, 90% of the time and within

15 minutes the remaining 10% of the time.



The shift Battalion Chiefs shall routinely review response time reports to evaluate system

and unit performance. Shift Battalion Chiefs shall work with their Company Officers to

constantly strive to improve on response time performance in those areas they have direct control

(i.e. turnout time, mapping familiarity, knowledge of the City, etc.).

Appendix E

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JANUARY 2, 2009







Incidents in Jurisdiction


Fire Medical Hazardous Materials Other Emergencies Service






Average Response Time

4 min 28 sec

Incidents out of Jurisdiction


Fire Medical Hazardous Materials Other Emergencies Service Strike Teams







Number Responses by Unit

Station 1

Battalion 6


Engine 61


Station 2

Engine 62


Medic 62


Squad 62


Truck 62


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Number Responses by Unit

Station 3

Engine 63


Medic 63


Truck 63


Station 4

Engine 64


Station 5 Engine 65


Medic Engine 65


Station 6

Engine 66


Station 7

Engine 67


Station 8

Engine 68






Total Units Dispatched


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Appendix G

Informant Interview

Name: Dan Campagnolo, Systems Administrator Organization: Newport Beach Planning Department Date of Interview: May 4, 2009 Location: Newport Beach GIS Office, in person, pen and paper

I spoke with Mr. Campagnolo, Systems Administrator, regarding the optimal locating of fire stations within a response area. During the interview, I asked the following questions:

1. What is the population of Newport Beach?

2. How many daily visitors to the beaches, retail and work areas?

3. What is the assessed value of the structural development?

4. How many road miles in each of the fire station catchment areas?

5. How many dwelling units in each fire station catchment area?

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Appendix H

Informant Interview

Name: Rod Murphy, Supervisor Organization: Newport Beach Geographic Information Services Department Date of Interview: May 5, 2009 Location: Newport Beach GIS Office, in person, pen and paper

I spoke with Mr. Murphy, Supervisor, regarding current location of fire stations and relocation of fire stations. During the interview, I asked the following questions:

1. Can you create a map of a polygon for each fire station catchment coverage area?

2. Can you determine the square mileage for each fire station catchment coverage area?

3. Can you move fire stations to illustrate greater catchment coverage areas?

4. Is this information accurate and up to date?

5. Can the polygon for each fire station catchment coverage area include adjacent cities?