How many fire companies does New York City need and where should they be located? Given a fire alarm of unknown severity, how many companies should be dispatched to it? Since 1968, the New York City Fire Department and The New York City-RAND Institute have carried out a joint project to improve the delivery of Fire Department services in the face of skyrocketing demand. In November 1972, two historic deployment changes were implemented: Six of the City's 375 fire companies were disbanded and seven were permanently relocated. In high fire incidence areas, an adaptive response policy was implemented, under which fewer companies are initially dispatched to potentially less serious alarms. The project, the analyses that led to these and other improvements, and the mathematical models employed are described in this paper. The changes have saved the City over $5 million per year, reduced the fire companies' workload, and established a more equitable distribution of fire companies throughout the City.
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