Firefighters better in position with mathematical model

How could firefighters position themselves even better in a region? If multiple stations are busy fighting a major fire, where should vehicles of other fire stations go to for optimal coverage?

Publication date: 09-05-2016

How could firefighters position themselves even better in a region? If multiple stations are busy fighting a major fire, where should vehicles of other fire stations go to for optimal coverage? To answer these - and many other - questions the Fire Department Amsterdam-Amstelland joint forces with the Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) in Amsterdam and Delft University of Technology.

The result of the research is a mathematical model that enables firefighters to optimally (re)position. To be able to do so, the correct data are needed, such as areas where the fire risk is higher, the place of an incident and the number of vehicles that are deployed. The researchers then made an optimization model that can calculate how the optimal coverage can be achieved. Based on the results the fire department makes a decision to reposition and how.

The research builds on the REPRO project, a research project of CWI and TU Delft, which focuses on developing smart forecasting and planning methods for ambulance services.

Guido Legemaate from Fire Department Amsterdam-Amstelland: "We have applied the models to the situation of our fire department and looked at how we could use them to our advantage. It soon became clear that with these models we could reach an optimal repositioning of our vehicles during large scale incidents. It also turned out that our fire stations  have since long been located in strategically good places. "

Rob van der Mei, R&D manager of CWI and a professor at VU Amsterdam, says: "This is a wonderful  example of how the use of mathematical models leads to further improvement of the quality of emergency services, which could possibly save extra lives." 

The model for repositioning during large-scale incidents will deployed at the Fire Department Amsterdam-Amstelland starting this summer.

An article about this research was recently published in the journal ERCIM News. http://ercim-news.ercim.eu/en105/special/boosting-the-responsiveness-of-firefighter-services-with-mathematical-programming

Picture: Politie Dienst Luchtvaart.