When Every Moment Matters: LA Area Fire Chiefs Fighting Time

Data-driven decision making is key in today’s fire service and critical to the fire service of tomorrow. As leaders, we must seek optimal performance to help drive positive outcomes.
— Deputy Fire Chief Silvio Lanzas of Glendale, CA

Speeding Up with Data as the Fuel

Amongst the desert sand of La Quinta, CA, fire industry leaders from the LA area met to talk about the future of their industry. The Los Angeles Area Fire Chiefs Association in early October is a 2-day consortium bringing the area’s top minds in fire to discuss the latest advancements in leadership practices, operations management, and data-driven decision making. We at mySidewalk were invited by our partners at Glendale, CA and Alhambra, CA to share about our growing suite of intelligence solutions for fire professionals, but mostly we listened and learned how important each minute and second is to a fire department and the role data plays in impacting those times.

Like all leading fire departments, agencies in the LA area are making big investments in using data and technology to track performance, report outcomes, and drive decisions. Deputy Fire Chief Silvio Lanzas in Glendale asserted that “data-driven decision making is key in today’s fire service and critical to the fire service of tomorrow. As leaders, we must seek optimal performance to help drive positive outcomes.”

Shaving Off Seconds to Save Lives

Every minute without life-saving CPR and defibrillation, chances of survival decrease 7%- 10%
— American Heart Association

The most common way to start using data in the fire industry is to routinely track their department’s response times each month. This helps them identify baseline performance and trends to see how close they are to achieving optimal times. For the most time-sensitive emergencies like cardiac arrests, the American Heart Association reports that “every minute without life-saving CPR and defibrillation, chances of survival decrease 7%- 10%” (source). Similarly, the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) recommends a 4-minute first on-scene travel time for the first unit and all units must arrive within 8-minutes to ensure proper delivery of care in an emergency (source).

  mySidewalk’s Response Performance Dashboard intakes CAD and RMS data, removes outliers, and calculates how fast your team responds 90% of the time.

mySidewalk’s Response Performance Dashboard intakes CAD and RMS data, removes outliers, and calculates how fast your team responds 90% of the time.

To reach those goals, fire chiefs are looking to shave minutes or seconds off of their response times which consist of three main factors: Alarm Handling (call is routed to the right station), Turnout Time (time it takes to suit up, get in their units, and hit the gas), and Travel Time (time it takes to get to the scene.) Turnout time, typically a 3-minute interval, needs to be tracked and optimized. Travel time, on the other hand, is harder to shave while not compromising safety. The chiefs are seeing a lot of value tracking their staff's performance to improve these short time intervals.

We learned the future of emergency response is getting faster and smarter thanks to forward-looking chiefs using all of the resources they have including performance data.

Performance measures should be used to evaluate, improve and maximize fire department operations. These metrics can also be used to establish goals, to provide comparative analysis and to promote best practices.
— Deputy Chief Lanzas

mySidewalk is a city intelligence tool that makes it simple to track, analyze, and communicate progress on citywide goals using data. To learn more about how you can build dashboards, just like this one, using pre-loaded data available in the mySidewalk tool or by uploading data from your local community, visit the mySidewalk website. You work hard for your data. What's it doing for you?