Fire-Medical Statistics

Statistical Data, Budgetary and Operational Highlights

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Public Safety staffing is sometimes compared by a ratio to the community's population. While not a complete picture of staffing needs, as each community may vary significantly depending on many factors, it remains a method of comparison.

FY2020 Sworn Firefighter Staffing

CityPopulation1Sworn Fire Department Count2Ratio per 1000 Residents
1 US Census Population Estimates 2018
2 Does not include sworn Firefighter positions dedicated to ambulance services, as SFMD ambulance service is comprised of 30 civilian staff, not sworn (Peoria reports 36 sworn dedicated to ambulance operations - Tempe records 12 sworn dedicated to ambulance operations)
3 Provided by that City’s staff
4 Obtained from published FY20 adopted budget 

How Staffing Rates Compare Nationally

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA} published in 2017 a national comparison using a ratio per 1,000 population. The NFPA notes: "The rates of a particular size of community may vary widely because departments face great variation in their specific circumstances and policies including structures conditions, types of service provided to the community, geographic dispersion of the community, and other factors."

NFPA area map

Median Rates of Career Firefighters per 1,000 People by Region and Population Protected, 2017

Population ProtectedNortheastMidwest SouthWest
250,000 or more1.181.381.230.92
100,000 to 249,0002.091.421.590.98
50,000 to 99,9991.711.231.591.09
25,000 to 49,9991.720.911.731.07

This NFPA publication reports an estimated ratio for the "West Region" for cities with a population between "100,000 to 249,000", to be "0.98" full-time firefighters per 1000 population.

Calls for Service

Total Incidents – January 1, 2019 through August 31, 2019
Incident TypeYTD 2019Percentage "%"
Service Call9247.8%
Fire Alarm4663.9%
Other117< 1%

Understanding Response Times

A practice of the industry includes tracking and reporting response times. This includes using a method referred to as the "90th Percentile". This methodology is not an average or median of response times. The 90th Percentile reflects the time in which 90% of responses were made at this time, or better.

Fire Call Percentage and Average

Actual SFMD Response Time Data

Emergency Response Times In City Limits - Engines and Ladders (January 1, 2019 - August 31, 2019)

Call/Alarm Room AverageTurnout/Deployment AverageTravel Time AverageTotal Response Time Average
Call/Alarm Room 90th PercentileTurnout/Deployment 90th PercentileTravel Time 90th PercentileTotal Response Time 90th Percentile

Emergency Response Times In City Limits - Ambulances

Turnout/Deployment AverageTravel Time AverageTotal Response Time Average
Turnout/Deployment 90th PercentileTravel Time 90th PercentileTotal Response Time 90th Percentile

Comparison of Calls for Service and Response Times in Neighboring Communities

2018 Emergency (Code 3) Response Times

The Arizona Valley Cities Benchmark Report for 2018, collaboratively assembles reported data on a number of city services and activities. Included in this report are Fire and Medical services provided throughout the valley.

Fire Department Calls for Service per Resident (FY18)


Total Fire Department Calls (FY18)


Budget Investments in the Surprise Fire Medical Department - FY2020

FY2020 recognized 12 new positions for the SFMD ($1.1 Million)

  • 5 Firefighters
  • 3 Civilian Paramedics
  • 3 Civilian EMTs
  • 1 Community Risk Reduction Specialist

Capital - ($10.3 Million)  Asset Replacement - ($2.3 Million)

Budget Growth Over the Years

FY2016 - 2020 All Funds Position Growth
Total of Budget Increases from FY2016 to FY20

Planning Into The Future

The voter approved bond program captures funding for future fire stations to address growth and planning needs.

  • Station 304 (163rd Avenue, North of US 60) permanent/expanded structure is currently in process.
  • Station 308 (Litchfield and Cactus) will be in design and construction stages FY2020-2022.
  • Bond funding also includes acquiring land for a future police and fire substation (309).

Staffing for Station 308 (Litchfield and Cactus) is captured in a three-year plan (FY2020-2022) to ensure well trained staff are onboard and prepared for the opening of Station 308 upon its completion. 

Staffing additions recognized in this year’s budget (FY2020) permitted a new Low Acuity Unit to be placed in service which supplements existing staffing levels.

Benefits of a New Low Acuity Unit (LA Unit)

Fire VehicleApproximately 75% of calls responded to by SFMD are medical calls. This LA Unit is able to respond to various types of medical calls, leaving engine and ladder crews available and in service, including for critical emergencies. The LA Unit operates from Station 305 (Parkview Place and Greenway Rd), which recognizes some of the higher call volumes across the City. This LA Unit is staffed by two sworn firefighters, capable of delivering EMT and Paramedic services, equipped with advanced life support medical equipment. A response by the LA Unit will be in lieu of the deployment a full company of four (4) fire fighters attached to engine and ladder crews.

Public Safety Master Plan

In 2017 the City retained the services of Citygate Associates, LLC to prepare a public safety master plan which included Fire Protection and Paramedic Services. Findings and action item recommendations are contained within their report. This Master Plan serves as an advisory document to assist with future planning and budgeting of resources. Intended to serve as a multi-year roadmap for planning and growth, this report recognizes that recommendations should be considered in the context of a "best practice review'' and "as funds permit". As subject matter experts, the Fire Chief and his management team are responsible to establish standards and to plan for the resources which will be needed into the future. This includes recommendations in the City's annual budget process. The City has demonstrated a history of significant investments in public safety. The City Council's Strategic Plan supports prioritizing public safety resources to ensure timely and appropriate response. This has been evident the past several years as public safety has recognized the largest investment of the general fund budget, to keep pace with growth and maintain service to the community. 

Several accomplishments have been recognized that align with recommendations in the Master Plan: 

  • As complements to L305, in FY2018, Engine 305 was piloted as an in-service peak time unit (in-service 40 hours a week), now being replaced with the Low Acuity Unit, in-service 24/7;
  • In FY2018 the Fire Marshal was changed to a full-time position;
  • An Emergency Manager was hired from funding dedicated in the FY2019 budget;
  • The FY2020 budget includes a Community Risk Reduction Specialist .