A GIS-Based Risk Assessment for Fire Departments: Case Study of Richland County, SC

Authors: Tracy Whelen*, University of South Carolina
Topics: Hazards, Risks, and Disasters, Spatial Analysis & Modeling, Medical and Health Geography
Keywords: fire, risk, emergency management, GIS, spatial statistics
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 7
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Risk related to everyday emergency incidents (structure fires, emergency medical calls, etc.) is a combination of multiple variables related to physical hazard and social vulnerability. All of these variables vary over space, including between communities within a single fire department’s response territory. Assessing these underlying levels of risk is an important activity for the fire service to plan effective response and prevention activities. Knowledge of which risk variables most greatly impact a given community can help the fire service deliver the most appropriate and effective outreach. This work uses spatial and nonspatial statistical techniques within a GIS framework to assess how underlying community variations in physical and social vulnerability correlate with recent structure fire, carbon monoxide, and emergency medical calls of the Columbia-Richland Fire Department in Richland County, South Carolina. Hot spot analysis and
thematic mapping of incident rates were used to assess the spatial variability of structure fires, carbon monoxide incidents, and emergency medical calls. Correlation analysis, principal component analysis (PCA), and factor analysis were applied to a few dozen social and physical risk factors at the Census block group level to assess correlation between risk factors and their variation across the county. The results of all types of methods were compared against each other to assess how risk factors correlated with incident types.

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