Computer Helps Wichita Pick Fire Station Sites

Computer Helps Wichita Pick Fire Station Sites

The Wichita Fire Department is now using an IBM computer to decide where to build its fire stations. As there is a prime requirement that no station can be more than four minutes from the scene of a fire, fire department planners studied growth patterns, existing and planned roads and how fast any three stations could respond to fires. They evaluated traffic conditions, alternate routes to fires, natural barriers (rivers) and man-made obstacles (railroad crossings).

The fire department had planned five new stat ions during the 1970s at a cost of several million dollars. After its study, the fire department decided to relocate two stations, construct two new stations and transfer three existing companies to man them. As a result the city has saved nearly $3 million in construction and operating costs.

The computer also helps the fire department to:

Save gasoline. Fire officials use the System/370 Model 155 to pinpoint areas in which 70 percent of the fires occur. Inspectors and fire fighters concentrate on educating property owners there on fire prevention. As a result, the fire department reduced inspection teams from 29 to 11, thus saving over 50 percent on the miles driven on inspection tours.

Maintain a list of some 400 invalids who are confined to their homes. A dispatcher checks the address listing and notifies the fire fighters en route if any invalid lives there.

Decide how many fire fighters and which equipment to put in a station. The system notes potential hazards such as industrial plants, hospitals, and the department mans each station with equipment designed to combat specific blazes.

Evaluate responses to alarms by collecting information through the Uniform Fire Incident Reporting System. This system helps Wichita compare performance with other fire departments.

Schedule building inspections. Inspectors use printed forms to record the property they inspect and when, any hazards they found, and what they did about these hazards.

Geographically locate all water hydrants and maintain a master file by type, main size and flow. The system schedules inspections twice.a year and maintains a file on maintenance requirements.

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