In September 2002, following a proposed ballot for strike action by the Fire Brigade Union in the United Kingdom, the Ministry of Defense agreed to deploy military staff to provide emergency fire fighting assistance, if required.
Under normal circumstances Norfolk fire service operates from 40 stations with 52 water tenders and a number of other support vehicles, such as foam carriers and aerial ladders.
The military had to provide a similar service using just 8 Green Goddess Vehicles and a small number of support teams besides. Green Goddesses were built in the 1950’s and are restricted to traveling at 45 miles per hour. They were last used on a large scale during a fire strike in 1977/78.
The military decided to use SIMUL8 in conjunction with Visual Basic to model firstly if 8 vehicles would be sufficient to meet typical demand. In addition, the models were also used to evaluate the optimal locations from which the Green Goddesses would be based.
Due to changes in circumstances on a almost daily basis, a simulation package which supported quick development and easy modification was required.
Using the historic data available, the developers of the SIMUL8 model were able to conclude very quickly that it was unlikely that all eight vehicles would be utilized at the same time.
The models were then used to ensure that from four optimal locations the arrival time of within 20 minutes was maximized.
SIMUL8 provided a relatively simple and easy to use apparatus for the provision of emergency fire fighting in Norfolk. In addition to aiding the achievement of arrival time targets the simulation also contributed towards saving lives.