Improving FDNY Surge Capacity: Lessons from the Blizzard of 2010

Client: New York City Fire Department
Faculty: Ana Oliveira, Dennis Smith
Team: Nizhe Cai, Kent Cherny, Miriam Fink, Oksana Miller, Ross Mudrick, Jessica Weis
Year: 2012
The New York City Fire Department (FDNY) is one of the largest emergency response organizations in the world, housing both New York City’s firefighters as well as its 911 first responders. Surge capacity, which is needed to respond to both predictable and unpredictable situations over a sustained period of time, remains one of the largest challenges facing FDNY. Through this lens, FDNY requested a Capstone team to analyze its response to the December 2010 blizzard. Research methods included a review of academic research on surge capacity, an analysis of the FDNY’s internal documentation of storm response, and interviews with a wide variety of internal and external stakeholders who played a critical role in the blizzard response. The final report will serve as an internal training tool for FDNY employees as they move up the organizational ladder. In addition, the report is designed to open up a broader conversation among emergency response organizations about best practices in building and deploying surge capacity overall.