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Deadly Delays: The Decline of Fire Response
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Map of Athol fires
THIS MAP shows locations and response times for building fires from 1990-2002
Building fires: Green diamond  1-5 minute response Fire stations: Fire truck icon
Yellow diamond  6 minute response Click here for an interactive map
Red diamond  7-29 minute response

Athol Fire Department

Community served: Athol, Mass.
Department type: Mostly volunteer firefighters
Fire stations (department)1: 2
Fire stations (town): 2
Square miles (town): 33.4
Square miles per station (town): 16.7 [ See rankings ]
1 Some communities have more than one fire department.
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Deadly delays

An exclusive Globe investigation into fire response times.
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On-time response rates
On-time rate, building fires receiving a response within 6 minutes, 1986-2002: 90.5%
[ See rankings ]
   On-time rate, early years, 1986-1998: 92.2%
   On-time rate, recent years, 1999-2002: 83.0%
1986-1998 1999-2002 1986-2002
Fires with on-time response 224 44 268
Fires with slower response 19 9 28
Total building fires studied 243 53 296

ISO insurance ratings
Insurance companies use ratings from ISO, a New Jersey company, to help determine fire insurance premiums. ISO rates communities on a scale from 1 (best) to 10 (no protection). The ratings are based on the community's fire department, water supply, and dispatch communications. The ratings are not based at all on response times. The same scale of 1 to 10 is applied to the effectiveness of building codes. In a split fire rating, such as 4/9, the second number applies to properties more than 1,000 feet from a hydrant.
ISO fire protection rating, Nov. 2004: 4/9
ISO building code rating, residential, Nov. 2004: 3
ISO building code rating, commercial, Nov. 2004: 3

Municipal spending on fire protection
Fire spending FY 2003 (town only): $1,370,441
Fire spending as percent of total budget, FY 2003 (town only): 12.7% [ See rankings ]
Fire spending as percent of total budget, FY 1987 (town only): 11.7%
Fire spending per capita, FY 2003 (town only): $122 [ See rankings ]
Fire spending per capita, FY 1987, in 2003 dollars (town only): $79
Change in fire spending per capita, 1987-2003 (town only): 53.5%
Change in other municipal spending per capita, 1987-2003, adjusted for inflation (town only): 39.8%
Fire spending per housing unit, FY 2003 (town only): $305
Fire spending per square mile, FY 2003 (town only): $41,045

Community information
County: Worcester
Population, 2004 (estimate): 11,238
Occupied housing units, 2000: 4,487
Median family income, 1999: $41,061
Population growth, 1990-2000: -1.3%
Population growth, 1980-1990: 8.4%
Tax base (assessed value per capita), FY 2004: $52,414
Total assessed value, FY 2004: $589,035,050
Single-family tax rate, FY 2004: $11.04

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