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EPIC-Network Fire-Related Projects & Cases

Posted on September 14, 2020


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The Educational Partnerships for Innovation in Communities – Network (EPIC-Network) is a nonprofit association with members all over the world. The organization and its members unite communities with the untapped potential of universities to exponentially improve conditions for human flourishing.

These are EPIC-Network projects and programs related to fire and wildfires. ELGL is sharing this information for our members to learn from and emulate.


Improving Emergency Communications with Limited-English-Proficiency (LEP) Chinese- and Russian-Speaking Communities

  • University Partner: 2019, University of Washington, Livable City Year
  • Local Government Partner: Bellevue

Abstract: Building on work done to prepare for Fire Department re-accreditation, prepare outreach strategies using Community Risk Reduction (CRR) for our most at-risk populations. This effort would identify the risk factors, most effective engagement strategies, and resources. Additional information regarding CRR best practices can be found here. The Bellevue Fire Department’s CRR visualization tool can be found here. Learn more


Applying the Community Nursing Practice Model to the Bellevue Fire Department’s Public Health Outreach

  • University Partner: 2019, University of Washington, Livable City Year
  • Local Government Partner: Bellevue

Abstract: The ability to automatically and quickly locate the geographic location of a city-owned vehicle could provide benefit to resource management, more rapid deployment of emergency vehicles, and/or more timely issue resolution. Automatic vehicle locator technology could also increase efficiency of fleet operations, reduce vehicle downtime, and enhance worker safety. Students will assess existing challenges, evaluate best practices/available options, identify potential costs, and develop recommendations for implementation. Learn more


Preventable Causes of Structure Fire Awareness & Education

  • University Partner: 2018, University of Washington, Livable City Year
  • Local Government Partner: Tacoma

Abstract: Focus awareness and education efforts to preclude fires that are easily preventable, focusing on the most effective methods that capture citizens’ attention and prompt them to take action. Review of our data about structure fires and identify the preventable causes and focus education and awareness efforts, based on cause and locations. Also identify the most effective programs to reach citizens and get them to take action. This project’s outcome could benefit the department by keeping our firefighters safer and less likely to be needed for response to preventable fires, and the citizens, keeping them safer and experiencing less property damage. Learn more | YouTube video


Preventable Causes of Structure Fire Awareness & Education

  • University Partner: 2018, University of Washington, Livable City Year
  • Local Government Partner: Tacoma

Abstract: Focus awareness and education efforts to preclude fires that are easily preventable, focusing on the most effective methods that capture citizens’ attention and prompt them to take action. Review of our data about structure fires and identify the preventable causes and focus education and awareness efforts, based on cause and locations. Also identify the most effective programs to reach citizens and get them to take action. This project’s outcome could benefit the department by keeping our firefighters safer and less likely to be needed for response to preventable fires, and the citizens, keeping them safer and experiencing less property damage. Learn more | YouTube video


Fire Hydrant Proximity to Schools in Downtown Seaside, CA

  • University Partner: 2018, CSU Monterey Bay, Sustainable City Years Program
  • Local Government Partner: City of Seaside

Abstract: Schools tend to have a high concentration of individuals for long periods of the time for the majority of the year. Schools cover a large area of land and if a fire were to break out more lives could be lost so it is expected that near these higher populated areas there would be more fire hydrants. Monterey County Ordinance 5230 Section 105 L105.4 states, “the hydrant serving any building shall be not less than 50 feet and not more than 1000 feet by road from the building it is to serve”.


A Spatial Analysis of Fire Hydrants in Seaside, CA

  • University Partner: 2018, CSU Monterey Bay, Sustainable City Years Program
  • Local Government Partner: City of Seaside

Abstract: The purpose of our project was to geocode a given number of fire hydrants in Seaside, CA for the local fire department. It is necessary for them to have their hydrant locations geocoded in order for the department to receive accreditation for funding. Our study area will be focused in the city of Seaside, CA (Figure 1). Our spatial question for this project is: Does the zone a fire hydrant is found in determine its class? While geocoding our points, we conducted a spatial analysis on how many hydrants are found in residential areas compared to commercial areas and what determines the amount in each area. We will also look at how the hydrants are classified and determine if that plays a role in their spatial arrangement.


Protecting the Public (Police and Fire Services Evaluation) 

  • University Partner: 2018, University of Minnesota, Resilient Communities Project
  • Local Government Partner: City of Ramsey

Abstract: Create a survey for business owners in Ramsey to assess satisfaction with Ramsey Police and Fire services. Learn more


Cost-Benefit Analysis of 911 Call Center Consolidation

  • University Partner: 2018, University of Wisconsin – Madison, UniverCity Year
  • Local Government Partner: Green County

Abstract: As the link between residents and first responders, the 9-1-1 call centers in Green County, the City of Monroe, and the City of Brodhead serve a vital public safety function: the dispatchers in these centers serve as the first line of communication for emergencies, and work closely with law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical services (EMS) to ensure callers’ safety 24 hours per day.1 The three call centers have varying capacities, staffing structures, and levels of service, but they share a history and culture of cooperation. The population of Green County, including the City of Monroe and City of Brodhead, is marginally growing with an increasing number of elderly individuals living within the community.2 See Appendix 2 for details. This trend suggests that call volume in the county and cities could increase in coming years. Consequently, maintaining capacity to support growing call volume is a potential challenge for the call centers. One option to increase capacity while controlling costs is to consolidate the call centers.3 Our clients’ primary motivation for this project is to determine whether 9-1-1 dispatch
consolidation is fiscally feasible.

The clients are also interested in understanding how to best improve the efficiency of operating 9-1-1 services. However, each of the call centers have their reservations regarding the potential for consolidation and its implementation. Green County is concerned that full consolidation would result in increased costs for the Sheriff’s Office after absorbing the smaller city call centers. In addition, there are concerns in Monroe and Brodhead about integrating into a larger operation and still successfully serving their smaller, tight-knit communities. Despite these concerns, the clients are interested in a cost-benefit analysis of policy alternatives that assess the fiscal and social net benefits of consolidation.

This report seeks to produce a cost-benefit analysis of a possible 9-1-1 dispatch consolidation between Green County, Monroe, and Brodhead. We provide the rationale for the study, four consolidation alternatives, and the anticipated costs and benefits of consolidation. We review the methodology for forecasting the net social benefits of the policy alternatives and explain the technique utilized for the sensitivity analysis. To conclude, we provide a recommendation to our clients based on the analysis.


Traffic Accidents Versus Land Type in the City of Seaside

  • University Partner: 2017, CSU Monterey Bay, Sustainable City Years Program
  • Local Government Partner: City of Seaside

Abstract: To spatially analyze Fire Department accident data in the city of Seaside, California from the dates March 25, 2015 to March 30, 2015. The accidents will be interpreted in groups based on land type in which they occurred. The four land types investigated in this project are “developed – open space”, “developed – low intensity”, “developed – medium intensity”, and “developed – high intensity.” The findings of this project could be useful in determining resource allocation between land use areas of different numbers of accidents.


Mason City Historic Firehouse Restoration Engineering & Design

  • University Partner: 2016, University of Iowa, Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities
  • Local Government Partner: Mason City

Abstract: As part of their Senior Design Capstone course, Civil & Environmental Engineering students provided a structural evaluation, feasibility study, and restoration alternative plans with cost estimates for a historic fire station in Mason City. Learn more


National City Police Culture

  • University Partner: 2015, San Diego State University, The Sage Project
  • Local Government Partner: National City

Abstract: In the past few years, National City has identified homelessness as a phenomenon with high costs for local government, particularly in regard to police and emergency services, fire services, and homeless encampment clean-ups. The city’s goal is to find long-term solutions that proactively address local homelessness in ways that help reduce these costs. This report was developed by a group of students enrolled in a graduate course on Public Policy Analysis at San Diego State University, in partnership with city staff. Drawing from the kinds of interventions other cities have adopted and from students’ original research in National City and surrounding areas, this report presents and evaluates the three most common forms of homeless intervention: policing, services, and empowerment. The report is organized as answers to a series of questions about each approach. Our findings suggest that National City’s current policing approach to homelessness is not effective, costly, and can at times be contradictory to stated goals. We recommend that the city not rely primarily on policing as a solution, but instead explore other approaches that more effectively reduce the unsheltered population and offer ways to reintegrate homeless individuals into the local community.  As a first step, it would be very helpful to collect more systematic information about the individuals living without regular shelter in National City, in order to evaluate the range of resources that are most needed in this context. Thereafter, we recommend developing targeted service and empowerment programs that are appropriate to the needs of local homeless populations.  For instance, a “housing first” approach has been successful getting chronically homeless individuals who make the greatest demands on emergency services off the streets. In contrast, transitional or rapid rehousing programs may be more appropriate for those who more recently became homeless, or whose needs are largely economic.  In addition, we advise the city to consider adopting programs that empower homeless individuals to become self-supporting and socially reintegrated into the local community. Such programs would help reduce the social distance between the housed and unhoused residents of National City and simultaneously help ensure that the solutions here are sustainable.  In most cases, National City could reduce the costs and improve the effectiveness of these programs by working in collaboration with nonprofit partners and by coordinating their data and homeless intervention efforts with those already existing in San Diego County. The costs of service and empowerment programs should also be offset by the substantial cost savings that will follow as the city reduces the demands on public works, police, fire, and emergency services.  This issue presents an opportunity for National City to further develop its reputation for progressive problem–solving. National City already has an effective community policing model in place, and the number of homeless individuals in the city is small enough that the city could be among the first in the region to devise sustainable solutions.Political Science Learn more


Victoria Firefighter Recruitment/Retention and Staffing Model Study 

  • University Partner: 2015, University of Minnesota, Resilient Communities Project
  • Local Government Partner: Carver County

Abstract: Review the City of Victoria’s firefighter staffing model and identify options for meeting increased service needs that will result from anticipated future population growth. Learn more


Daytime Staffing at Fire Department

  • University Partner: 2014, University of Minnesota, Resilient Communities Project
  • Local Government Partner: Rosemount

Abstract: Develop a strategic plan to increase the amount of on-call firefighters available during work week hours.  Learn more


Fire Station 31 Branding Standards

  • University Partner: 2013, San Diego State University, The Sage Project
  • Local Government Partner: National City
  • Program Information: 

Learn more 


Application of Science and Technology to National City’s Disaster Preparedness and Response

  • University Partner: 2013, San Diego State University, The Sage Project
  • Local Government Partner: National City

Abstract: National City is a microcosm of the San Diego region with a long history and an uncer-tain economic and future development. Homeland Security of the city and its occupants focuses on traditional aspects of Public Safety and security including working with groups like the Fire Department, Police Department, and City Development group as clearly security and economic development go together. The perception of safety and security often seem to have a clear impact on the interest of people in investing money in a region or of visiting the area for shopping, as with the highly advertised National City “Mile of Cars.”By working with officials from National City, the Homeland Security Graduate Program embarked on an effort to use the city as a semester project in which the application of Science and Technology in Homeland Security (HSEC 602) could be used to provide a test bed for similar efforts in other cities. Much of what was done was simply to try to study the challenges and provide appropriate solutions that could be helpful and immediately done with available resources. To this end, much of what was suggested and constructed recognizes the professionalism of National City’s emergency management personnel like firefighters and police, but also the community nature of the city with its focus on schools, churches, and neighborhoods.

Geospatially overlaying basic data about the city highlighted both the setting and the opportunities for the city. With its critical location hosting both Interstate 5 and Interstate 805 just north of an international border, billions of dollars of trade move through National City every month. Disruption of this trade as well as the millions of people traveling from Mexico, Chula Vista, and other cities to San Diego and other cities means that National City is a major thoroughfare of critical importance. With the trolley crossing through the city and also military bases adjacent to the city, National City has a potential vibrancy and commercial value of major proportions unlike many cities that are not located on such busy thoroughfares. “Location, location, location” is a phrase often used for business; National City has a key location, which is indicative of its history as the second city established in the region, just after San Diego.Location also indicates geographic identity such as for potential liquefaction and disrup-tion of the infrastructure. This translates into potential outside funding for National City, but clearly presents dangers to the well-being of the city from disruption of water pipe-lines, gas pipelines, roads, and most other infrastructure. Fires that firefighters are unable to reach may be one of the worst dangers.Other dangers and opportunities, such as simple crime prevention in open areas like the central park, Kimball Park, and potential ways to utilize cameras and information to attract visitors are additional examples of turning a challenge to a blessing. Also understanding how this central setting might provide a solution for distributing medicines in the case of a major disaster or of gathering volunteers together to assist the community, or of using as an evacuation center are all things studied in this effort.H SEC 602 Learn more

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