Mark Masoner had a plan to map the placement of Ada’s fire hydrants and their flow rates for his senior capstone project in East Central University’s Cartography and Geography Department. Ada Fire Chief Marion Harris thought it was a great idea – but, he said, he had another problem.
Where should the city of Ada relocate and build a new central fire station?
It’s a complex decision. The city is looking for at least a three-acre site with a maximum four-minute drive time to reach sections of town not covered by remaining fire stations. The location also needs to be near major incidents to which firefighters respond.
“Once I heard his project, I thought, ‘Wow, that’s a lot better,’” Masoner said.
Ada voters approved a one-cent sales tax extension two years ago to fund the new station and other capital improvement projects. Several locations have been suggested.
Geographic information systems (GIS), the computerized technology for dealing with spatial data and the method Masoner planned to use for his fire hydrant study, also is ideal to analyze locations for the new fire station.
A better placed site can decrease loss of life and damage from fire, Masoner said.
Dr. Mark Micozzi, ECU professor of cartography and geography, said students in that department are required to perform a major capstone project in their final semester using all the skills they have learned.
“Mark jumped on the opportunity to use our high-tech software to run a spatial analysis of 11 years’ worth of response calls with a drive time analysis on the set criteria,” he said.
It was a massive effort that took three months of part-time work. But Masoner not only completed his senior project and furnished solid data for the city to consider, he won a $500 first-place award in the Regional University and Community College Category at the 2012 Oklahoma Research Day held annually at the state Capitol.
Twenty-three undergraduate students were hand-selected by their institutions to present scientific research posters during the prestigious competition. Research Day is designed to showcase the outstanding research being conducted on Oklahoma college campuses and to make legislators and the public aware of how the research can positively impact the state.
In Masoner’s case, his project saved the city of Ada about $40,000, according to the former city manager, Micozzi said.
Ada City Manager Cody Holcomb cautioned, however, that the city has encountered some challenges since Masoner completed his analyses in December and is still working with architects to determine the most feasible site. It might not be one of the originally suggested locations.
“We are trying to acquire land in certain locations,” he said, “and other parcels that were available (several months ago) are not available now.”
Holcomb said the city is trying to communicate with property owners, order appraisals and “put the pieces of this incredible puzzle together. It’s not a completed book.”
Masoner presented his findings to the Ada City Council in February. To complete his research, he poured through 11 years of encrypted fire department records with addresses, fire section locations, dates, and type of incidents, including grass, vehicle and building fires as well as calls for hazardous materials, medical assists and false alarms.
“At first, I thought, ‘Oh, my goodness. I have to type all that?’ Then I found a digital monthly incident report. I was able to extract information, with the chief’s permission, from the data. It was pretty intense,” he said.
After translating the encrypted files, he uploaded the data to Microsoft Office Excel. Using GIS software, he geocoded every incident in the last 11 years – something like 9,740 incidents – and gave each one an address that represented its location in the city of Ada.
“Once I had everything spatially correct, I could determine trends and compare them with proposed sites to determine the closest proximity,” Masoner said. “Once I had incidents geocoded and incidents trend analysis complete, I could detect trends in six types of incidents over 11 years. It is a good way to see which site could cover the area the best.”
He also acquired and updated digital road data to determine accurate drive times. He compared drive times from each proposed site for the maximum coverage of areas not served by other fire stations.
Masoner devised a ranking system to compare the suitability of prospective sites. Then he compared incident proximity values with drive time coverage to further evaluate the sites.
“It was a comparison of scenarios more than a comparison of sites,” Masoner said.
First, he evaluated the current central fire station on South Broadway and Station No. 2 at East 6th and North Highland.
In scenario No. 2, he evaluated Fire Station No. 2 with one of the proposed sites to see which would be best. That turned out to be a city-owned site at 13th and S. Stockton.
Scenario No. 3 was an evaluation of the proposed sites.
“I picked any 3-plus acre lots and evaluated them with Station No. 2,” Masoner said. “I didn’t limit it to city-owned lots. The best site was a 10-acre tract south of town off Kerr Lab Road. Fire trucks could take the highway all around town without dealing with traffic signals or being blocked by trains.”
The fourth scenario used Station No. 2 to dictate the best site for a central station if the fire training facility at the Pontotoc Technology Center could be converted into a sub-station. That site was along Lonnie Abbot Blvd., west of Broadway Ave., behind Nichols Dollar Saver. “Overall, that would be the best scenario because there would be three fire stations. It covers the city the best and also covered the incident density analysis and the airport,” Masoner said.
Other locations suggested for the central fire station included land between the airport runway and Lonnie Abbott Blvd. and at the intersection of Fourth and Broadway.
Also in the planning stages are a new police station, 911 central dispatch and sports complex.
While his research has resulted in more publicity, Masoner said all the senior projects are supposed to benefit a community.
“The projects are outstanding,” Micozzi said, “with many bordering on the master’s thesis level. All the projects end up benefitting someone or some agency. Each student has his/her own passion that leads to helping someone.”