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Case Study

Metro Fire Service

Decision Analytics Platform Optimizes Standards of Cover and Supports CPSE Accreditation

One of the largest first services in North America began working with Darkhorse Emergency in 2016 to incorporate analytics and data-based decision making into its ongoing station planning and Standards of Cover improvement efforts. The Darkhorse Emergency decision analytics platform has become the foundation for an evidence-based culture that drives better response performance and has helped the service achieve CPSE accreditation.


An all-hazards emergency response organization serving a large North American city.

  • One of the largest fire services in North America serving 2.5+ million people.
  • 80+ stations respond to more than 120,000 emergency calls annually
  • Earned CPSE accreditation in 2019


The service needed ways to optimize resource coverage to meet increasing service volumes in an evolving city while maintaining service levels and working within budget constraints.


  • Introduced Darkhorse Diagnostics and Darkhorse Deployment tools to support confident data-based decision making for service level management, resource optimization, and longer-term station location planning
  • Supported the development of an analytics team and the transition to an evidence-based culture
  • Supported service level assessments and station location decision making to optimize Standards of Cover and facilitate the CPSE accreditation process
  • Currently supports collaboration with operations on resource coverage reviews as well as ongoing collaborative problem-solving in areas including staffing, critical tasking, and critical resource coverage
The Challenge

Constant decision-making demands confidence—and the data to back it up.

In a large city with a large fire service, critical budget and service decisions must be made every day. Without any analytical resources, decision-makers within the service must rely heavily on intuition and experience. And city officials carefully scrutinize every dollar spent and each decision made. The fire service knew it needed to become more data savvy to expedite the decision-making process, optimize its resources, and ensure the best possible service for its community while giving city leaders greater confidence in both short and long-term choices.

The service wanted to modernize - to move from reactive decision-making to evidence- based. But they were realistic enough to know that it takes time to change a culture.

Daniel HaightDarkhorse Emergency
The Solution

Launching an evidence-based transition.

Laying the foundation for continuous improvement

The service implemented the Darkhorse Emergency decision analytics platform in 2016 and immediately began taking advantage of Darkhorse Diagnostics and Darkhorse Deployment tools for identifying performance problems and pinpointing the best deployment decisions.

This kickstarted a transformation to data-based decision-making that has redefined the way the service approaches its Standards of Cover. The platform quickly became the go-to for making service and budget decisions, responding to requests from City Council, and informing ongoing dialogue with city leaders as to how to best protect the city’s people and property. It became the launchpad for the development of a dedicated analytics team in 2017. Today, that team is engaged in all aspects of decision-making and relies on the platform to inform its choices.

Putting stations in the best locations.

The service used the tools to identify the mathematically optimal station and apparatus location and to instantly see the impact of adjustments. With the help of the Darkhorse Emergency team, the service’s newly-formed analytics department assessed opportunities for substantially improving response performance while adding little if anything to capital expense. The service continues to leverage station planning capabilities on an ongoing basis. Each year, a handful of older stations reach the point where deferred maintenance exceeds market value. The service uses these opportunities to regularly reassess station locations and continually improve capacity to respond.

Improving standards of cover and achieving accreditation.

From the outset, the service’s primary goal has been to serve the city to the best of its ability and to make the service and budget decisions that will drive ideal outcomes. Using the decision analytics platform has created consensus and confidence around decisions both small and large. And it has empowered the service to continually improve performance — an effort that has become increasingly critical in light of COVID-19 and its ongoing implications for the city’s revenue streams and budgets. In 2019, the service earned CPSE accreditation. The service continues to leverage the platform and tools to address issues identified during accreditation and to inform ongoing operations deployment reviews, a new process the service established and implemented with knowledge gained during accreditation.

Things move much more quickly now, even though decisions continue to be very carefully scrutinized. Our team enjoys greater confidence knowing we are using evidence to make these critical decisions, without bringing in consultants to do the work for us.

The Result

A service that keeps getting better.

With its evidence-based culture firmly rooted, the service is well-positioned to effectively and efficiently respond to the emergency service needs in its growing city:

  • Established a dedicated analytics team
  • Achieved and is maintaining CPSE accreditation since 2019
  • Strives for ongoing continuous improvement through regular operations deployment reviews

It has been rewarding to see the changes they’ve made over the last few years. When we started, they didn’t even have Internet access in most of their facilities. Today, their operations group talks about optimizing deployment and uses these sophisticated tools to better inform their decision-making.

Rob KorzanDirector, Darkhorse Emergency
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