Essays on the Performance of Fire and Rescue Services

University dissertation from Göteborg University

Abstract: This thesis consists of an introduction and five separate papers. All papers deal with measuring performance for the Swedish fire and rescue services. The first paper describes the production process of fire safety, while Papers 2-5 are empirical analyses measuring performance for some aspects of that process. Paper 1 (The problems of defining outputs in the public sector’s service production - a discussion with an application to the fire service) discusses how outputs and inputs should be measured in the public sector, and how they could be used in productivity and efficiency studies. There are two different levels where the studies could be performed: the vertical and the horizontal levels. The vertical level is the distinction between performing studies on the macro, the national, and the within-unit level. The horizontal level is the distinction between different outputs, whether determinant variables, direct outputs or consequences are used. The paper also includes an application of these ideas to the fire service. Paper 2 (Swedish fire and rescue services’ manning levels - a stochastic frontier analysis using panel data) studies the productivity and efficiency of the Swedish fire and rescue services during 1989-1995 using a stochastic frontier specification for panel data. The manning level is modelled as a function of risk, environment, and number of turn-outs. The results show that the size of population was the main determinant of manning levels. No productivity change was discovered. The efficiency differences found were substantial with a mean input saving potential of 30%. In Paper 3 (Measuring the efficiency of Swedish fire services’ stand-by level), the DEAmodel is used to find efficiency scores and returns to scale corrected for environmental variables. The paper studies the stand-by level of Swedish fire services. This level has two output dimensions 1) the turn-out time (the faster the better), measured as number of people reached within five and ten minutes, and 2) the suppressing power, measured by the total number of firemen turning out (the more the better). The empirical results show that the long run input saving potential is about 30%. In Paper 4 (Productivity change of Swedish Fire Services between 1992 and 1998), Malmquist productivity indexes are used to find out how productivity has changed among Swedish fire services between 1992 and 1998. The paper studies the stand-by level and the empirical results show that productivity has decreased for full- and mixedtime fire services. Less input used has resulted in less output produced. Paper 5 (Measuring performance differences using an ordinal output variable: The case of Swedish fire services) investigates how to find performance differences in fire services with an ordinal output variable. Performance is measured by adjusting the outputs for inputs using the ordered probit model. No performance differences were found between full-time and part-time firemen for fires in detached houses. The results also indicate that “team spirit” is more important for performance than the actual number of firemen fighting a fire.

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