The Alarm Has Sounded: A Descriptive Study of Performance Measures of Fire Department ESDs in Travis County
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Purpose:The purpose of this research is to describe how the thirteen Emergency Service Districts (ESDs) in Travis County meet critical performance measures taken from national ISO, NFPA, CFAI and municipal benchmark standards. These recognized performance measures ensure effectiveness in protecting and preserving the life and property of citizens. Professional, scholarly and empirical literature was reviewed in order to determine “best practices” for the fire service. Fire service measures were divided into three descriptive categories: Fire (suppression) performance, staffing and training, and fire prevention. Thirteen ESDs in Travis County with varying budgets and sizes were evaluated. Methods: This study uses survey research, interviews and content analysis. A survey instrument was developed and distributed to all 13 ESDs in Travis County. A total of 10 surveys were completed followed by interviews with 15 ESD Chiefs, Commissioners, and various other emergency service administrators. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze the results of the survey. Findings:The majority of ESDs in Travis County are facing critical financial challenges and threats to their viability. The findings suggest that the fragmentation of ESDs in Travis County has played a significant role in the failure of the majority of ESDs to meet nationally recognized standards.