Does your department’s response performance stack up?

Posted on August 31, 2023
Categories: Best Practices
Tags: EMS, Fire

In both fire and EMS services, response time is obviously a crucial part to a successful resolution of an incident. However, it’s just one of a few different factors to consider when analyzing the safety and effectiveness of your department’s overall performance. 

Factors such as siren and light use, alarm handling, turnout time, and travel time should also be considered. For fire and EMS responses, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has set guidelines for 4 minutes or less for travel time, 80 seconds for fire turnout time, and 60 seconds for EMS turnout time. In the past year, ESO has found that for response time, the median travel time for both fire and EMS fell at or below the NFPA guidelines whereas the median turnout time was slightly higher than recommended.  

Does your department stack up?

In the chart below are the NFPA guidelines along with median response times and high performers.

Please note: it’s important to take your department’s unique needs and practices into consideration when comparing to the benchmark. There are also different standards set for both paid and volunteer firefighters. That being said, if you’re looking to improve in any areas, there are a few practices your department can adopt to do so.  

Ways to improve 

One way to improve is to add timers with a notification system. This helps your crews see how quickly they’re responding in real time. Reflecting on these turnout times each month and then giving actionable feedback can go a long way in improving performance. Make sure to keep your entire organization on the same page by reporting back to both internal and external stakeholders. Another way is to complete reports quickly after all units are clear in order to help ensure the accuracy and timeliness of the information and to keep any important notes from being overlooked. Doing so can be vital to future responses in the same location.   

To see more data and insights that’ll help your department, download the ESO Fire and EMS Indexes today.