Fire truck relocation during major incidents
The effectiveness of a fire department is largely determined by its ability to respond to incidents in a timely manner. To do so, fire departments typically have fire stations spread evenly across the region, and dispatch the closest truck(s) whenever a new incident occurs. However, large gaps in coverage may arise in the case of a major incident that requires many nearby fire trucks over a long period of time, substantially increasing response times for emergencies that occur subsequently. We propose a heuristic for relocating idle trucks during a major incident in order to retain good coverage. This is done by solving a mathematical program that takes into account the location of the available fire trucks and the historic spatial distribution of incidents. This heuristic allows the user to balance the coverage and the number of truck movements. Using extensive simulation experiments we test the heuristic for the operations of the Fire Department of Amsterdam‐Amstelland, and compare it against three other benchmark strategies in a simulation fitted using 10 years of historical data. We demonstrate substantial improvement over the current relocation policy, and show that not relocating during major incidents may lead to a significant decrease in performance.