89.9% of first engine arrival times fall below this time. The 90th percentile baseline goals are determined by MCFRS using past performance data and designed to conform to response time guidelines published by the Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI) in FESSAM 8th Edition.

Performance trends

Why is this measure important?

Response time is a common and useful metric to measure the performance of fire, rescue and emergency medical services. Performance can be compared to benchmark goals established by MCFRS as well as standards and best-practices established by the Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI), and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) among others. Quick response to fire incidents is crucial for firefighters to perform rescues, save lives and minimize property damage.

Montgomery County population zones

Montgomery County has four population density zones. MCFRS sets response time goals based on the zones shown below. Rural areas are shown in green.

Factors contributing to current performance

  • Early fire detection and fire department notification.
  • Presence of residential sprinklers.
  • Readily available and sufficient quantity of water for firefighting.
  • Four-person staffing on 33 of 35 engines during most of FY18, then on all 35 engines beginning 4/15/18.

Factors restricting performance improvement

  • Increased demand for service (73 additional structure fire incidents, an 11.8% increase) compared to FY17.
  • Call processing times exceeding national standards.
  • Number of engines and aerial units will remain constant between FY19 and FY21 while number of residential structure fire and medical incidents is expected to increase.
  • Need additional suppression resources to meet national standards.
  • In some cases, especially with modern building components and furnishings, the fire had already spread beyond the room of origin prior to MCFRS arrival.

Performance improvement plan

  • Reduce response time by: 1) implementing universal call-takers at the PSCC and 2) continuing enhancements to the new computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system to improve call-processing/dispatch time.


Average arrival time for first engine to structure fire in rural areas of the county