In recent years fire departments in urban areas have experienced a sharp increase in demands for their services while their budgets have generally grown at a rate less than that of inflation. Many of these departments have turned to systems analysis for help, realizing that, if they do not use more effectively what resources they have, their level of service will diminish. The RAND Corporation has provided assistance to the New York City Fire Department and others over the past decade, concentrating on deployment policies, which tie available resources to their distribution and movement in the field. This paper first provides a brief overview of the deployment policies that have been analyzed with the help of mathematical models. This is followed by a more complete discussion of one of the policy questions: how should available fire companies be temporarily relocated to provide coverage when many other companies are busy fighting large fires?
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