Fire Station Optimization

Goal Summary

In 2018, the Naperville City Council approved a goal aimed at maintaining response times and reducing ongoing costs of service delivery by evaluating fire station coverage areas and potential consolidation for the future. As the year progressed, staff decided to delay this analysis until the City is closer to build-out and the full extent of public safety service needs throughout the city are known. Instead, staff has revised the goal to focus on utilizing data to increase efficiencies in the department in other ways. Specifically, a recent study of peak call times, personnel allocations and response times resulted in the implementation of a pilot program that stands to better align personnel with peak call volume times without incurring additional overtime costs.

Why is this important?

As part of its brand of excellence, service in Naperville is not simply delivered; it is continually analyzed for improvements that result in better service at a lower cost. The Naperville Fire Department is constantly evaluating performance data in relation to the ability to provide top quality services while still being fiscally responsible.
As the community changes and as part of this continual evaluation, it is critical for the Naperville Fire Department to study the location and deployment of vital resources, such as personnel, fire stations and response vehicles.

What are we doing?

As new growth in the City of Naperville slows, Fire Department staff have identified a desire to evaluate the department’s five station locations in the southern portion of the community (south of 75th Street). Specifically, staff would review critical data – including current call volume, response times, unit utilization numbers and build out data for each station and service area – to identify whether the current station locations are best suited to deliver services to the community.
Due to the recent sale of large areas of land (Wagner Farm, Polo Club, Clow Creek Farm) in the southern part of the city to developers, staff has decided to delay this analysis until the City is closer to build-out and the full extent of the need for public safety services in this area is known.
The delay of the station optimization plan, however, has not stopped staff from utilizing data to increase efficiencies in the department. A recent study of peak call times, personnel allocations and response times resulted in the implementation of a pilot program that stands to better align personnel with peak call volume times without incurring additional overtime costs.
In October 2018, fire staff implemented a Personnel Optimization Plan (POP) or "power shifting" pilot program. This innovative plan will transfer firefighter/paramedics currently working a 24-hour shift to a 40-hour work week at peak demand hours. These peak demand hours are between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. This initiative would shift up to four personnel to a peak demand schedule without adding additional overtime costs.
Traditionally, the Illinois fire service schedules full time employees on a 24 hours on, 48 hours off basis. This schedule has been used to offset overtime costs for maintaining an all day, every day service and provide coverage for the community. Much like other communities, Naperville Fire Department experiences most of its service calls during daytime hours; in fact, data from the past five years indicates that 54 percent of calls occur between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., with the demand for service dropping considerably after that time.
Power shifting will make use of existing Fire Department personnel to better serve Naperville during high-call volume times without incurring overtime or adding additional employees to the department. In Naperville’s case, the power shifting program will assign up to four current Fire Department employees to work a 40-hour schedule 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday versus the traditional 24 hours on, 48 hours off.
The Fire Department’s minimum staffing number of 42 will be maintained at all times; however, assigning four people to peak hours of operation and reducing the workforce during low impact times is expected to have the following benefits:
  • additional response vehicle during peak hours of operation without any increased costs,  
  • decreased response time to calls when power shifting is in place, 
  • increased productivity, 
  • additional training hours, and  
  • less demand for mutual aid from neighboring departments.

What's Next?

By tracking key data, staff will determine whether the pilot of the Personnel Optimization Plan has improved response times and decreased the demand on individual response vehicles and should continue as normal staffing protocol.
Fire Department operations will continue to be assessed for efficiency in delivering services to the community while striving to match the department's benchmark performance goal of response times of six (6) minutes or less, 90% of the time. Staff will also continue to monitor the build out of the city and review call volume within each station district to determine whether changes need to be made to the location and deployment of stations and/or response vehicles.
The data displayed below shows the current call volume for each station and the current response volume for each vehicle (BC= Battalion Commander, E= Engine, S= Squad, T= Truck, M= Medic or Ambulance). It is important to understand that multiple vehicles are typically attached to a single incident based upon severity and call response protocol, so incident numbers may not match the individual vehicle response numbers.