Emergency Response Time Deficiences

Emergency Response Time Deficiencies – See Austin Firefighters Association Bob Nicks identify the Austin neighborhoods under-served and discuss practical solutions.


This video is a combined Austin Firefighters Association and Austin Fire Department presentation from the March 7th Public Safety Commission meeting. The first 15 minutes of this presentation lays out the causes of the emergency response time deficiencies as well as practical solutions for each deficiency cause. 



Majority of Austin Fire stations missing response time goals.

Click on the links to watch the videos.

KXAN Video

KVUE Video

AUSTIN - The Austin Firefighters Association and Austin Fire Department released alarming numbers about the response time of crews. Only seven of the city's 46 fire stations are meeting their response time goal. 

"Those response time deficiencies create greater property losses in terms of fire loss and they create worse outcomes in terms on medical responses," said Bob Nicks, president of the Austin Fire Association.

Firefighters say part of the problem is there aren't enough stations. Back in 2012, AFD told city leaders it needed six additional stations. Only one station made it into the bond election. And while voters approved funds to build it, the station still hasn't been built.

Nicks and Austin Fire Department Chief of Staff Tom Dodds presented possible solutions to the Public Safety Commission on Monday afternoon in hopes they will send a resolution to council.

"One of the things we're having trouble with right now with our incredible growth and density is response times. It's a solvable problem, but we need to work together to get that thing solved," said Nicks.

The commission approved sending a four-point resolution to council. If approved it will

  1. Look at funding five critically needed fire stations immediately
  2. Ensure council gets a needs analysis each year during its budget session
  3. Direct the City Manager to look at funding new fire stations through public-private partnerships
  4. Get GPS signal preemption to help emergency vehicles move through traffic

Before the resolution goes to council for a vote, four council members will have to sign off as sponsors. Go here to read the proposed resolution.

Emergency Response Time Reduction Presentation




Council Members Take Steps to Improve Fire Response Times

During the Austin City Council meeting on March 24, 2016, the City Council approved a resolution to begin the process of exploring methods to improve fire response times in the highest needs areas in the City. The resolution was sponsored by Council Member Delia Garza and cosponsored by Council Members Ann Kitchen, Sabino “Pio” Renteria, Leslie Pool, and Sheri Gallo.
“As we looked at the data from previous years, we realized that response times to fire calls vary depending on where you live in the City of Austin,” said Council Member Delia Garza.  “A lot of this variation has to do with population growth and increased development.  I’m glad we took the initial step today to ensure that all Austinites can depend on the same high level of services no matter where they live.”
After extensive research resulting from collaboration between the Austin Fire Department and the Austin Firefighters Association, five areas of immediate need for new fire stations were identified which include the Travis Country area, the Loop 360 area, the Goodnight Ranch area, the Moore’s Crossing area, and the Canyon Creek area.  This resolution asks the City Manager to develop a strategic plan with proposed funding mechanisms and a timeline to meet this need. 
“Many neighborhoods within the City of Austin suffer from emergency response time deficiencies. This proposed Council resolution contemplates a plan or methodology for reducing emergency response time deficiencies,” said Bob Nicks, President of the Austin Firefighters Association.  “This plan is holistic in that it examines a broad range of emergency response time deficiency causes and the resolution contains a practical solution for each deficiency cause. This plan will provide to the City Council, in open session each year, a data driven tool to reach informed decisions on new fire station location and construction timing.” 
The resolution also calls for exploration of new technology that could potentially be used to improve traffic signal control for emergency response vehicles.  The City of Austin currently uses a light-based system that was installed in the mid-1990s, and updating the system to utilize a GPS-based system could be an affordable and viable option for reducing emergency response times.

“I’m grateful to the Austin Fire Department, the Austin Firefighters Association, and the Public Safety Commission for their recommendations that helped us reach this point,” said Council Member Delia Garza.  “This item is an important step forward to ensure that we are providing reliable public safety services equitably across the city.”



Risk and Service Delivery Analysis


Risk and Service Delivery Analysis

The Fire Risk and Service Delivery model was developed to measure life & property risks in conjunction with fire service delivery within City of Austin.  The results show a need for additional stations based on the current risk and response times.

2016 Model Results

1. Travis Country area (immediate need)

2. Loop 360 area (immediate need)

3. Manchaca/Slaughter area (area to watch)

4. Goodnight Ranch area (immediate need)

5. Moore's Crossing area (immediate need)

6. Canyon Creek area (immediate need)

*Immediate Need-Area has significant development, increased population and response time which are substantially below AFD's goal of 8 mins (call receipt to onscene, 90%).

*Area to Watch-Area has significant development, increased population and response time which are substantially below AFD's goal of 8 mins (call receipt to onscene, 90%).

-New fire station in area have been funded and could impact response time positively.  Will review after stations have been in place to determine if additional station is needed. 




2015 Emergency Response Time Standards and Coverage Map and High Risk areas

The Austin Firefighters are asking for your support on the Council agenda item 9 proposed resolution coming before Council on Thursday the 24th.  This resolution contains a plan to reduce deficient emergency response times, which exist throughout the City of Austin. Click here to view the proposed resolution for agenda item 9 as well as the posted backup materials.

The Public Safety Commission, at their March 4th meeting, made a unanimous recommendation to Council to support the proposed emergency response time reduction resolution. For a good overview of the issues and the solutions contained within the proposed resolution, please watch the March 4th Public Safety Commission AFA/AFD presentation: (audio poor at beginning but quickly gets better) - Click here for presentation PowerPoint contained in the presentation video.

Here are other important resource materials referred to within the Public Safety Commission March 4th presentation and/or the proposed:

2015 Emergency Response Time Standards of Coverage Map

2016 Risk and Service Delivery Analysis map

History of the AFA/ AFD collaboration on the risk and service delivery analysis

Establishing a plan going forward to reduce emergency response time deficiencies is immediately needed given  that even under the most pessimistic projections — if some sort of plague and economic slump were to take hold in the region — the Austin area's population will still grow by more than 30 percent over the next 15 years, a report from the Urban Institute shows