Quick Response Vehicle - Faster, More Effective, Less Costly

Johns Creek City Staff has prepared an analysis of the potential benefits and costs comparing the options of building a new fire station versus augmenting our current fire stations with a Quick Response Vehicle approach. The conclusions drawn by this analysis will ultimately be a factor in guiding the decision on our investment. Given that level of influence on such an important decision, it’s critical that the analysis is fair and accurate. A preliminary review of the findings indicates that there is more work to be done.

One conclusion of the analysis is that adding a Quick Response Vehicle (QRV) on a 24 hour a day rotation would allow the city to achieve a similar level of service as adding a new fire station. Response time improvement is cited as 32.15% for both options. Questions are raised regarding the assumption that response time improvements will be the same for both options as studies clearly show that QRV response times are demonstrated to be better due to factors such as maneuverability in traffic (a definite factor in Johns Creek). The Staff report does not accurately reflect that advantage for the QRV option.

Further, Staff’s analysis makes the case that the staffing costs associated with the QRV option are higher than those for the fire station. That assertion fails the logic test as there would be additional staffing requirements for a new fire station, but they are not factored into the analysis. It is that staffing cost differential that the report uses to make the case that the QRV option would be less cost-effective. If staffing costs for a new fire station were accurately included in the analysis, the QRV option would clearly be the more cost effective option.

What problem are we attempting to solve? What is the best way to solve that problem?

The key question is, “What problem are we attempting to solve?”. Essentially, we need to find the way to deliver service in response to an emergency call. That response most frequently requires delivery of emergency medical services (45% of calls). In descending order of frequency, the other call types to which the fire department responds are Good Intent Calls (31%), Service Calls (10%), False Alarms (9%), and Hazardous Conditions (3%). Fortunately, just 2% of call responses are related to a fire, and very few of those are building or structure fires. Under those conditions, the solution to the problem would seek to address the vast majority of responses required without sacrificing the speed at which we can respond to fire emergencies. The QRV option addresses 99.5% of emergency calls with a cost effective solution.

The agenda for the City Council Meeting on Monday October 22, 2018 includes an item to consider approval of $216,800 for Architectural and Engineering Services for a new fire station. The cost of that study is more than the cost of a QRV.

Councilman Bradberry proposed the consideration of deploying a Quick Response Vehicle as a faster, more effective, and less costly option to meet the city’s objective of improving response times to emergency calls. He has been demanding the business case for a new fire station, and championing a thorough analysis and evaluation of each option in order to provide the basis for City Council’s decision on how to best provide emergency response. The City of Johns Creek deserves nothing less.

Ed Thompson1 Comment