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Decision-Related Research on the Organization of Service Delivery Systems in Metropolitan Areas: Fire Protection (ICPSR 7409)

Principal Investigator(s): MacGillivray, Lois, Research Triangle Institute


This study represents one of four research projects on service delivery systems in metropolitan areas, covering public health (DECISION-RELATED RESEARCH ON THE ORGANIZATION OF SERVICE DELIVERY SYSTEMS IN METROPOLITAN AREAS: PUBLIC HEALTH [ICPSR 7374]), police protection (DECISION-RELATED RESEARCH ON THE ORGANIZATION OF SERVICE DELIVERY SYSTEMS IN METROPOLITAN AREAS: POLICE PROTECTION [ICPSR 7427]), solid waste management (DECISION-RELATED RESEARCH ON THE ORGANIZATION OF SERVICE DELIVERY SYSTEMS IN METROPOLITAN AREAS: SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT [ICPSR 7487]), and fire protection (the present study). All four projects used a common unit of analysis, namely all 200 Standard Metropolitan Statistical Areas (SMSAs) that, according to the 1970 Census, had a population of less than 1,500,000 and were entirely located within a single state. In each project, a limited amount of information was collected for all 200 SMSAs. More extensive data were gathered within independently drawn samples of these SMSAs, for all local geographical units and each administrative jurisdiction or agency in the service delivery areas. Two standardized systems of geocoding -- the Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) codes and the Office of Revenue Sharing (ORS) codes -- were used, so that data from various sources could be combined. The use of these two coding schemes also allows users to combine data from two or more of the research projects conducted in conjunction with the present one, or to add data from a wide variety of public data files. The present study includes basic measures of personnel, budgets, equipment, and manning levels, statistics on fires and losses, and the use of innovations in fire service delivery for all 200 SMSAs. Fire prevention and fire suppression activities were investigated in greater detail in a sample of 50 SMSAs. Data were collected from public records as well as from interviews conducted with 995 city executives, fire chiefs from 1,186 fire departments, and 958 building inspectors. In the initial phases of the project, an econometric model was used to describe patterns of fire service delivery and their relative efficiency. Chiefs of fire departments from the 50 sampled SMSAs were asked to provide information on administrative practices, personnel, mutual aid contracts, emergency medical and rescue services, communications, inspection, and investigation services, fire prevention education, fire planning, and training activities. The questionnaire administered to building inspectors included items on budgetary and personnel characteristics, various building code provisions, allocation of responsibilities for inspection, and the number of buildings inspected each year. Insurance Service Organization ratings and fire department replacement values were obtained from the city managers or executives in places with populations of 2,500 or more within the 50 sampled SMSAs. The study also provides basic demographic information about the places where the fire departments were located.

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Study Description


MacGillivray, Lois. Decision-Related Research on the Organization of Service Delivery Systems in Metropolitan Areas: Fire Protection. ICPSR07409-v1. ICPSR ed. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 1978. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR07409.v1

Persistent URL: https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR07409.v1

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This study was funded by:

  • National Science Foundation (NSF-C900)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    cities, community elites, decision making, econometrics, emergency services, evaluation, fire departments, fire insurance, fire protection, local government, municipal services, personnel management, population planning, risk assessment, Standard Metropolitan Statistical Areas, training

Geographic Coverage:    United States

Time Period:   

  • 1967--1975

Date of Collection:   

  • 1974--1975

Universe:    Fire departments in SMSAs with populations of less than 1,500,000 and located entirely within one state.

Data Type(s):    census/enumeration data, and survey data

Data Collection Notes:

Separate weights were computed for the three groups of surveyed individuals (fire chiefs, building inspectors, and municipal executives). These weight values were calculated by a two-step process: each respondent was initially assigned a weight equal to the selection weight for the SMSA in which the individual functioned. At a second stage, after completion of the surveys, the weights were adjusted by a ratio of the number of expected responses to the actual number of responses received.


Sample:    Single-stage stratified sampling. Among the 200 SMSAs included in the population, strata were formed on the basis of organizational mix of service, geographic location, and degree of unionization. A sample of 50 SMSAs was selected from these strata, resulting in the coverage of 2,119 fire departments providing service in the designated areas. Response rates for the surveys were: 87 percent (fire departments), 70 percent (city executives), and 76 percent (building inspectors). The final number of survey responses is larger than the actual number of persons interviewed as some executives had jurisdiction over more than one administrative or political unit, and the survey data was imputed for all relevant units.

Data Source:

mailback questionnaires, institutional records, and publications such as: (1) U.S. Bureau of the Census. CENSUS OF POPULATION AND HOUSING, 1970, (2) National Fire Protection Association. QUINQUENNIAL SURVEY OF PUBLIC FIRE DEPARTMENTS, 1974, (3) U.S. Bureau of the Census. COUNTY AND CITY DATA BOOK, 1972, (4) Department of Commerce, National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration. NATIONAL CLIMATOLOGICAL SUMMARY, 1974, (5) Brandeis University, Lemberg Center for the Study of Violence. RIOT DATA REVIEW.

Extent of Processing:   ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Standardized missing values.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.


Original ICPSR Release:   1984-05-03

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