Acceptable Response Times

There Should Be Enough Fire Companies to Arrive within Industry Standard Response Time Objectives

Getting proper resources to emergencies can be broken down into two parts:

  1. Distributing Enough Fire Companies to Arrive In Time
  2. Ensuring Every Fire Company Has Enough Members

Here we will analyze the first part.

What is “In Time”?

Modern synthetic materials are like solidified gasoline, causing rapid fire growth, and making this question more critical today than ever before. In the video below, you will see an example of the dramatically larger fires we encounter, even after just a few minutes of burning. Rewind the video and you will be amazed to see that these fires were set at the same moment!

What the Experts Have To Say

Now you see why we say “seconds count”. But how fast is “fast enough”? Luckily, our industry standards, developed by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), make this clear:

  • The first engine company must arrive within 4 minutes
  • All companies initially dispatched must arrive within 8 minutes

“(3)*240 seconds or less travel time for the arrival of the first arriving engine company at a fire suppression incident and 480 seconds or less travel time for the deployment of an initial full alarm assignment at a fire suppression incident” (NFPA 1710 4.1.2.1, p. 7)

What About Medical Calls?

According to the National Institutes of Health, “permanent brain damage begins after only 4 minutes without oxygen”, leading to the same 4 minute standard for medical emergencies:

(4) 240 seconds or less travel time for the arrival of a unit with first responder with automatic external defibrilla- tor (AED) or higher level capability at an emergency medical incident” (NFPA 1710 4.1.2.1, p. 7)


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