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Service Efficiency Review –Toronto Fire Services & Toronto EMS

Carried out by Pomax, 2013

This page has excerpts. The whole report can be found in this link

TFS explains that, except in very rare circumstances, a response is always sent to a medical call. If a fire truck is available at a station within the catchment area of the medical incident, that truck is sent. If the closest station is already occupied on another incident the next closest truck is sent. Nevertheless, the number of responses, each year, to medical calls by the fire service can be reasonably influenced by policy and operations. For example, a revised medical response protocol instituted in June of 2012 is estimated to have reduced the number of fire responses to medical calls from approximately 86,000 to less than 50,000 annually.

When the core fire incident trend is compared to Toronto’s population growth we can see that there is actually a decline in incidents.

In concert with physicians at Sunnybrook Centre for Prehospital Medicine, protocols were revised to ensure that TFS responded to medical calls where history and statistics showed that there might be a one in one hundred (1%) chance, or more, that fire fighter intervention could be of benefit to a patient. The data continues to be evaluated but early indications are that focusing fire response to medical calls in this manner will reduce the occurrence of response to an average of approximately 4,000 times a month rather than 7,000,while maintaining the same level of benefit to patients.

P.22: Other than medical emergencies, alarm responses are the highest frequency of calls received by the TFS. Alarm calls are reported to the TFS by alarm companies which monitor commercial and residential establishments. Most fortunately, out of 19,933 alarm responses in 2011 only 188 (less than 1%), turned out to be fires. By far the greatest number of responses was caused by alarm equipment malfunction, accidental alarms, and alarms tripped on purpose (human malicious).

P.23: TFS tells us that the equivalent of 2 to 3 fire trucks are usually out of service due to paid absences (sick time, vacation, other owed time off). In addition, hiring freezes have meant that another 2 fire trucks remain unstaffed. As well, up to 16 fire units are removed from front line service for purposes of continuing education and practice. However, these vehicles can be quickly returned to front line service if required because of call load. So, at any given time TFS will staff approximately 123 apparatus although 16 of those might be assigned to training duties.

Sample count in 2011 for Station 112:
2,165 total incidents
- 1,489 or 69% were responses to medical calls
- 188 or 9% of all incidents were false alarms (they were dispatched as ‘alarms ringing’; they were only found to be false alarms after the fire service’s arrival)
18 or 0.8% of all incidents were fires…

.....within each station area: ‘Medical Incidents’ are the most frequent fire service responses, alarms ringing (most of which, fortunately, turn out to be ‘False Alarms’), are the second most frequent type of occurrence; and ‘Fires’ are included since that is the category of response that most of us associate with the fire service.

Information for 2011, all stations:
- 58% of all responses by the fire service were to medical calls
- 4% were to alarms - 1.4% were to fires.

P.27: total # of fires within 345 stn (Dufferin and Dupont) in 2011: 20.
Jan: 0
Feb: 2
Mar: 4
Apr: 3
May: 3
June: 2
Jul: 1
Aug: 1
Sep: 1
Oct: 1
Nov: 1
Dec: 1.

P.36: the fire service responds most often to medical calls – over 84,000 in 2011; next, to alarms – just over 19,900 but declining; then to pot on stove and other cooking incidents (no fire,but could become fire without intervention); and fortunately, down on the frequency scale, structure fires.

- Fire service responses have remained flat or declined between 2005 and 2011. Reports that fire responses are increasing are due to a higher incidence of medical calls, directly due to increased EMS events.

p.37: In 2011, 58% of all events by the fire service were to medical calls, 14% were to alarms, and 1.4% was to fires. Readers should keep in mind that this information is based on outcome of incidents, not as they were dispatched. The other approximately 27% were to a wide range of incident types.

P.39: We found that, for the years 2009, 2010, and 2011:
1.Of the 39 civilian deaths, 37 occurred in living quarters.
i. 21 in single family and semi-detached houses,
ii.2 in townhouses/row houses, and
iii.14 in multi-unit residential apartments including high-rises.
The remaining two fire-related deaths occurred in a commercial building and an institutional building.

2.A breakdown of the age of the buildings was determined and we found:\\ i.Only 1 out of all 39 properties was built as recently as 2003.
ii.35 were built in or before 1972.
iii.1 out of 39 data has no record of year built. However, the adjacent properties were built in 1914 and 1972 respectively.
iv.8 out of 39 (20.5%) civilian deaths occurred in high rise buildings 7 storeys and higher. Another 7 deaths occurred in buildings between 3 and 6 storeys.

P.39: Major Injury stats (2009-2011): 1.Of the 63 civilian major injury (not fatal) incidents, 1 involved a truck on a roadway. Out of the remaining 62 incidents, 52 occurred in living quarters:
i.22 in single family and semi-detached houses
ii.4 in townhouses/row houses, and
iii.24 in multi-unit residential apartments including high-rises).

P. 54: intuitively, one would expect that reduced fire response would result in an increased death rate from fire however, that was not the case in the UK. The downward trend in fire deaths...even while there were reductions in fire staff levels, has been attributed to increased Home Safety Checks, as well as other prevention initiatives and the use of software such as Phoenix and PinPoint13 which helps to determine fluid staffing and apparatus configurations based on hour of the day.

Chart7-Accidental Dwelling Fires and Home Fire Risk Assessment demonstrates the decline in dwelling fires in the Greater Manchester area of the United Kingdom in relation to an increase in home fire risk inspections, at the same time as staffing and resource efficiencies were being put into place (please see Chart 8-United Kingdom Cumulative Staff Reductions). Similar results have been achieved across the United Kingdom.

The report has a lot to say about changes made to Fire Fighting budgets in the UK esp. in Manchester. They have cut back radically without having more fires. They don't go on medical calls.

P.298: The Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, like other emergency services in the United Kingdom, has responded creatively to a 30% budget reduction, with additional cuts expected by 2015, while maintaining firefighter health and safety standards and a level of service to the community as before the loss in funding.

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Content last modified on February 26, 2020, at 02:13 AM EST