US fire station turn-out

Fire station design may not quite play a very big role in turnout times as previously thought, according to recent US research findings into how station design of dormitory location and the time of day of the emergency can affect turnout times.

While many research studies have emphasised that station design is a big factor with direct impact on turnout times, another recent study suggests that the incident time of the day is actually of much greater importance.

According to Daniel Scheller, PhD, co-author of ‘Fire Department Turnout Times: A Contextual Analysis’, recognising the interaction of station design and the time of day of an incident is crucial to understanding turnout times.

Key findings from this study include:

  • Time of day had the greatest impact on response times – station design was not the main factor in turnout time.
  • Graveyard shift response times were longer regardless of station design. Graveyard shift was defined as midnight to 6am for this study.
  • Dormitories located above the apparatus garage or in a separate facility had longer response times during the graveyard shift.
  • There was no significant difference in turnout times between different station designs, except during the graveyard shift where above garage dorms had longer turnout times.
  • Walking downstairs or sliding down a fire pole to the apparatus garage took longer because those activities require more wakefulness than walking through a door.

There may be more cost-effective ways to reduce turnout times and fire service leaders should look at special training or protocols to lessen the impact of station design, according to the co-author. To obtain a copy of the research article email