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Deadly Delays: The Decline of Fire Response
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On-time rates for larger US fire departments

Here are 203 fire departments in the US with at least 1,000 building fires studied, ranked by The Boston Globe from worst on-time rate to best for the years 1986 through 2002. An on-time response was judged to be one in which the fire department arrived at the fire within 6 minutes of receiving the alarm.

Reporting of fires to the National Fire Incident Reporting System is voluntary, so many of the largest cities in the US are not listed here -- including New York City and Los Angeles, for example. The Globe included only fires meeting certain criteria: only building fires that a fire department reported it extinguished, only those in the department's territory, and only those where the response time was greater than 0 minutes and less than 30 minutes.

Please send any questions to Bill Dedman, at Dedman@Globe.com.

Rank State Fire department On-time rate,
building fires
receiving a
response in
6 minutes,
1986-2002
No. of fires
with on-time
responses,
1986-2002
No. of fires
with slower
response,
1986-2002
Total building
fires studied
by the Globe,
1986-2002
1 WA Yakima County
Fire Department #5
22.2% 289 1,012 1,301
2 KS Wichita Station 37 38.3% 589 947 1,536
3 TN Shelby County
Fire Department
42.6% 791 1,066 1,857
4 FL Volusia County
Fire Service
44.8% 491 606 1,097
5 FL St. Lucie County
Fire Distrtict
45.8% 584 691 1,275
6 FL Pasco County
Emergency Services
51.3% 1,104 1,050 2,154
7 FL Palm Beach County
Fire Rescue
52.0% 957 883 1,840
8 FL Polk County 53.8% 698 599 1,297
9 GA Hall County
Fire Services
60.7% 619 401 1,020
10 AL Birmingham
Fire & Rescue
61.3% 741 468 1,209
11 VA Chesapeake
Fire Department
62.0% 1,441 885 2,326
12 FL Jacksonville
Fire And Rescue
64.3% 7,055 3,912 10,967
13 FL Brevard County
Fire Rescue
65.4% 937 496 1,433
14 GA Cobb County
Fire Department
66.3% 1,258 640 1,898
15 GA Gwinnett County 66.7% 2,163 1,080 3,243
16 UT West Valley City
Fire Department
67.1% 797 391 1,188
17 VA Virginia Beach
Fire Department
67.8% 780 371 1,151
18 FL Seminole County
Fire Rescue
68.1% 1,116 523 1,639
19 GA Rome Fire Department 69.3% 1,187 527 1,714
20 IL East St Louis
Fire Department
70.6% 3,380 1,405 4,785
21 GA Dekalb County 71.2% 2,831 1,143 3,974
22 FL Tallahassee
Fire Department
71.7% 2,664 1,050 3,714
23 SC Columbia Fire Department 73.6% 2,716 974 3,690
24 UT Salt Lake County
Fire Department
74.2% 1,934 672 2,606
25 LA Baton Rouge
Fire Department
74.3% 1,064 368 1,432
26 FL Sarasota County
Fire Department
78.3% 1,285 356 1,641
27 SC Orangeburg Department
of Public Safety
79.0% 1,059 282 1,341
28 FL Broward County
Fire Department
79.5% 1,134 292 1,426
29 TN Metro Nashville
Fire Department
81.0% 1,757 413 2,170
30 MD Montgomery County
Fire Department
83.0% 1,778 365 2,143
31 WI Green Bay
Fire Department
83.0% 1,277 262 1,539
32 CT Danbury Fire Department 83.3% 1,035 208 1,243
33 HI Honolulu Fire Department 83.4% 2,445 487 2,932
34 KS Olathe Fire Department 84.3% 854 159 1,013
35 MO St. Louis
Fire Department
84.9% 979 174 1,153
36 KS Overland Park
Fire Department
84.9% 1,064 189 1,253
37 KY Lexington Fire Department 85.0% 1,943 344 2,287
38 AK Anchorage Fire Department 86.3% 3,511 557 4,068
39 FL Pompano Beach
Fire Rescue
86.3% 1,383 219 1,602
40 OK Oklahoma City
Fire Department
86.4% 8,972 1,418 10,390
41 GA Atlanta 86.7% 2,546 392 2,938
42 OH Elyria Fire Department 87.0% 1,272 190 1,462
43 VA Fairfax County
Fire & Rescue
87.6% 2,683 380 3,063
44 UT Salt Lake City
Fire Department
87.9% 3,049 419 3,468
45 AL Birmingham
Fire Department
88.0% 5,095 697 5,792
46 FL Hollywood Fire Rescue 88.5% 1,213 158 1,371
47 IL Peoria Fire Department 88.7% 4,049 516 4,565
48 IL Springfield
Fire Department
88.7% 3,137 399 3,536
49 FL Fort Myers
Fire Rescue
89.3% 1,257 151 1,408
50 OR Portland Fire & Rescue 89.7% 2,035 233 2,268
51 TN Memphis Division
of Fire Services
89.8% 12,482 1,423 13,905
52 KS Lawrence/Douglas Co
Fire & Medical
89.8% 1,089 124 1,213
53 MT Billings Fire Department 90.0% 1,357 151 1,508
54 TN Chattanooga
Fire Department
90.0% 3,669 407 4,076
55 MA Worcester
Fire Department
90.2% 4,198 455 4,653
56 GA Atlanta Fire Department 90.5% 2,986 314 3,300
57 NJ Edison Division of Fire 90.9% 1,019 102 1,121
58 LA New Orleans
Fire Department
91.0% 5,800 573 6,373
59 IA Cedar Rapids
Fire Department
91.1% 1,417 139 1,556
60 OH Dayton Fire Department 91.6% 5,767 529 6,296
61 IL Waukegan Fire Department 91.7% 955 87 1,042
62 WA Tacoma Fire Department 91.7% 943 85 1,028
63 SD Sioux Falls
Fire Rescue
91.9% 1,602 141 1,743
64 NY Rome Fire Department 92.1% 1,170 101 1,271
65 FL Clearwater
Fire & Rescue
92.1% 1,732 148 1,880
66 VA Petersburg Fire 92.3% 1,277 107 1,384
67 AR Little Rock
Fire Department
92.3% 6,590 550 7,140
68 NY Yonkers Fire Department 92.3% 3,421 285 3,706
69 AR El Dorado
Fire Department
92.5% 1,062 86 1,148
70 AR Jonesboro
Fire Department
92.5% 1,507 122 1,629
71 AR West Memphis
Fire Department
92.7% 1,509 118 1,627
72 FL St. Petersburg
Fire & Rescue
92.9% 5,877 451 6,328
73 VA Newport News
Fire Department
92.9% 3,077 234 3,311
74 CT Meriden
Fire Department
92.9% 1,434 109 1,543
75 AR Blytheville
Fire Department
93.0% 1,690 127 1,817
76 KS Hutchinson Kansas
Fire Department
93.0% 932 70 1,002
77 IA Waterloo
Fire Department
93.0% 1,617 121 1,738
78 OH Columbus
Division Of Fire
93.1% 19,572 1,454 21,026
79 IA Council Bluffs
Fire Department
93.1% 1,011 75 1,086
80 ID Boise Fire Department 93.2% 1,826 134 1,960
81 TN Jackson Fire Department 93.3% 1,596 114 1,710
82 IL Aurora Fire Department
Central Station
93.4% 2,091 148 2,239
83 GA Augusta Fire Department 93.6% 1,293 89 1,382
84 OH Akron Fire Department 93.6% 5,259 359 5,618
85 NE Omaha Fire Department 93.7% 5,806 393 6,199
86 SC North Charleston
Fire Department
93.7% 1,747 117 1,864
87 IL Belleville
Fire Department
93.7% 1,300 87 1,387
88 KS Kansas City Kansas
Fire Department
93.7% 6,492 434 6,926
89 IA Sioux City
Fire Department
93.8% 1,335 89 1,424
90 WA Seattle Fire Department 93.9% 5,323 346 5,669
91 IL Rockford Fire Department 94.0% 3,248 208 3,456
92 FL Largo, Largo
Fire Rescue
94.0% 1,152 73 1,225
93 OH Youngstown
Fire Department
94.3% 5,004 304 5,308
94 MT Great Falls
Fire Rescue
94.4% 957 57 1,014
95 DC Washington, DC
Fire & EMS
94.4% 6,102 363 6,465
96 OH Springfield Fire
Rescue Division
94.4% 2,182 129 2,311
97 OH Middletown
Division of Fire
94.5% 1,534 89 1,623
98 MI Detroit Fire Department 94.8% 2,916 160 3,076
99 TX Lubbock Fire Department 94.8% 1,957 107 2,064
100 OK Tulsa Fire Department 94.9% 6,901 373 7,274
101 OH Marion City
Fire Department
94.9% 1,244 67 1,311
102 KS Wichita Fire Department 95.1% 6,442 335 6,777
103 OH Lorain Fire Department 95.1% 1,268 65 1,333
104 VA Richmond Fire and
Emergency Services
95.4% 4,350 212 4,562
105 IL Evanston Fire &
Life Safety Services
95.5% 1,385 66 1,451
106 CT Bridgeport
Fire Department
95.5% 5,264 249 5,513
107 UT Odgen Fire Department 95.7% 1,327 60 1,387
108 CT Hartford
Fire Department
95.7% 3,134 140 3,274
109 MN Minneapolis
Fire Department
95.7% 6,441 287 6,728
110 KS Topeka Fire Department 95.7% 3,644 162 3,806
111 OH Cincinnati
Fire Division
95.8% 14,174 624 14,798
112 OH Toledo Fire Department 95.9% 11,521 494 12,015
113 GA Savannah Fire &
Emergency Services
95.9% 988 42 1,030
114 MN Duluth Fire Department 95.9% 1,696 72 1,768
115 WV Huntington
Fire Department
95.9% 1,203 51 1,254
116 NJ Newark Fire Department 96.0% 7,161 299 7,460
117 IL Joliet Fire Department 96.0% 2,215 92 2,307
118 MA Fall River
Fire Department
96.1% 1,524 62 1,586
119 IL Decatur Fire Department 96.2% 2,695 106 2,801
120 OH Canton Fire Department 96.2% 1,842 72 1,914
121 CT Bristol Fire Department 96.3% 1,030 40 1,070
122 KY Louisville Fire Department 96.3% 3,119 121 3,240
123 OK Muskogee 96.3% 1,659 64 1,723
124 MA Pittsfield Fire Department 96.3% 1,844 70 1,914
125 OH Mansfield Fire Department 96.4% 1,614 60 1,674
126 IN Muncie Fire Department 96.5% 1,219 44 1,263
127 SC Spartanburg City
Fire Department
96.5% 1,257 45 1,302
128 IL Champaign Fire Department 96.6% 1,156 41 1,197
129 IA Davenport
Fire Department
96.6% 2,157 76 2,233
130 AR Hot Springs
Fire Department
96.6% 1,479 52 1,531
131 OH Newark Fire Department 96.6% 1,066 37 1,103
132 AR North Little Rock
Fire Department
96.7% 1,722 58 1,780
133 CT Norwalk 96.8% 1,274 42 1,316
134 IA Des Moines
Fire Department
96.8% 5,409 177 5,586
135 IL Danville
Fire Department
97.0% 1,495 46 1,541
136 IL Bloomington
Fire Department
97.1% 998 30 1,028
137 MA Cambridge
Fire Department
97.1% 1,838 55 1,893
138 IA Dubuque Fire Department 97.2% 1,027 30 1,057
139 MA Lowell Fire Department 97.3% 1,906 52 1,958
140 NY Buffalo (city)
Fire Department
97.4% 4,531 121 4,652
141 NJ Jersey City
Fire Department
97.4% 8,689 232 8,921
142 CO Denver Fire Department 97.5% 10,140 263 10,403
143 NJ Camden Fire Department 97.6% 4,279 106 4,385
144 NY Albany Fire Department 97.6% 2,714 66 2,780
145 AR Fort Smith
Fire Department
97.6% 2,265 55 2,320
146 MA Boston Fire Department 97.7% 21,686 520 22,206
147 CT West Hartford 97.7% 1,073 25 1,098
148 IL Chicago Fire Department 97.8% 89,375 2,047 91,422
149 CT Waterbury
Fire Department
97.8% 1,935 44 1,979
150 MA New Bedford
Fire Department
97.8% 2,122 48 2,170
151 OH Hamilton Ohio 97.8% 1,091 24 1,115
151 WA Spokane Fire Department 97.8% 1,091 24 1,115
153 VA Norfolk Fire-Rescue 97.9% 5,064 111 5,175
154 NJ Atlantic City
Fire Department
97.9% 2,264 49 2,313
155 MN Saint Paul
Fire Department
97.9% 7,974 168 8,142
156 OH Lima Fire Department 98.0% 2,066 43 2,109
157 IL Harvey Fire Department 98.1% 2,064 40 2,104
158 NJ Trenton
Fire Department
98.1% 1,432 27 1,459
159 AR Pine Bluff
Fire Department
98.2% 3,317 62 3,379
160 FL Pensacola
Fire Department
98.3% 1,620 28 1,648
161 SC Charleston
Fire Department
98.4% 2,401 40 2,441
162 MA Springfield
Fire Department
98.4% 2,983 47 3,030
163 NY Niagara Falls
Fire Department
98.5% 3,202 50 3,252
164 OH Lakewood
Fire Department
98.5% 1,104 17 1,121
165 IL Elgin Fire Department 98.5% 992 15 1,007
166 TN Johnson City
Fire Bureau
98.5% 1,276 19 1,295
167 MA Brockton
Fire Department
98.6% 2,693 39 2,732
168 NY New Rochelle
Fire Department
98.6% 1,036 15 1,051
169 IL Granite City
Fire Department
98.6% 1,259 18 1,277
170 SC Greenville City
Fire Department
98.6% 1,510 21 1,531
171 OK Lawton Fire Department 98.7% 1,105 15 1,120
172 MA Lynn Fire Department 98.7% 1,258 17 1,275
173 NJ Irvington
Fire Department
98.7% 1,170 15 1,185
174 NJ Elizabeth
Fire Department
98.8% 2,126 25 2,151
175 MD Baltimore City
Fire Department
98.9% 29,608 342 29,950
176 NY Troy Fire Department 98.9% 1,489 17 1,506
177 NY Newburgh
Fire Department
98.9% 1,143 13 1,156
178 NJ Paterson
Fire Department
99.0% 3,586 38 3,624
179 IN Marion Station 1 99.0% 1,077 11 1,088
180 MA Quincy Fire Department 99.0% 1,103 11 1,114
181 CT New Britain
Fire Department
99.0% 1,337 13 1,350
182 OH Cleveland
Fire Department
99.0% 22,617 217 22,834
183 CT Marlborough
Fire Department
99.1% 1,094 10 1,104
184 CT New Haven
Fire Department
99.1% 3,181 28 3,209
185 IL Kankakee Fire Department 99.2% 1,298 11 1,309
186 IL Chicago Heights
Fire Department
99.3% 1,068 8 1,076
187 RI Warwick Fire Department 99.3% 1,145 8 1,153
188 NY Jamestown
Fire Department
99.3% 1,041 7 1,048
189 MA Revere Fire Department 99.4% 1,072 7 1,079
190 MA Lawrence Fire Department 99.4% 2,211 14 2,225
191 NY Schenectady
Fire Department
99.4% 1,993 12 2,005
192 IL Alton Fire Department 99.4% 1,354 8 1,362
193 NY Utica Fire Department 99.4% 2,122 12 2,134
194 IL Quincy Fire Department 99.5% 1,070 5 1,075
195 OH Zanesville
Fire Department
99.6% 1,027 4 1,031
196 MA Chelsea Fire Department 99.6% 1,381 5 1,386
197 NY Poughkeepsie
Fire Department
99.7% 1,013 3 1,016
198 RI Pawtucket
Fire Department
99.7% 1,015 3 1,018
199 IL Washington Park
Fire Department
99.7% 1,492 4 1,496
200 NY Mount Vernon
Fire Department
99.8% 2,131 5 2,136
201 RI Providence
Fire Department
99.8% 4,416 9 4,425
202 DE Wilmington
Fire Department
99.9% 1,335 2 1,337
203 IL Cicero Fire Department 100.0% 1,128 0 1,128
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