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Fire: Overview

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Fires in SimCity are dangerous and spread like butter! Or possibly like butter that is on fire.... Either way it's important to do something about them, preferably before the Fire Service advisor faints with terror (being the whining, hysterical ninny that he is, "The City is Burning!" - "No, it isn't; it's a donut factory, an abandoned pizza joint and a someone's set off the meth lab in their trailer home. It's not armageddon, calm down and stop getting your knickers in a twist!")

The following sections can be found in this article:

  • Fire Truck Behavior
  • Reducing Fire Risks
  • Fire Truck Behavior

    Fire trucks are, in my opinion, the most annoying type of SimCity service vehicle because they can create huge traffic problems and their 'pack mentality' makes them ineffective at their primary job - fighting fires.

    When a fire breaks out in your city ALL fire trucks are called to respond, so long as they're not on their tea break. ALL fire trucks will head towards that fire and will continue to head towards it until either the fire has been put out, or it has burned out.

    This is a serious problem because if a second fire breaks out in the meantime it has to wait until the first fire has gone before ANY of your fire trucks will go to it. There's no division of labor (i.e. all trucks go to fire no.1, all vehicles except 2 go to fire no.2, all except 2 of those go to fire no.3 etc). There's also no priority, every last fire engine will go to put out a burning shack in the middle of nowhere because it caught fire first, rather than prioritizing a huge inferno at a high density industrial unit which is blazing out of control. Because the emergency response system has no awareness of the scale or danger imposed by individual fires, and it has no way of prioritizing them, or distributing available vehicles which often generates completely ludicrous circumstances.

    After risking life and limb to put out a shack in the wilderness, our fire trucks finally make their way across town to deal with the high density factory where they eventually put out the fire, another fire breaks out in the city, just before the high density factory has a chance to share it's firey joy with a neighboring building. Because there's no decision making by emergency response, all the trucks will then cheerfully leave the area (blazing away) to go and deal with the 'next' fire, no matter that they'll have to drive all the way across town, and then all the way back again.

    Overkill...

    I'll be perfectly honest, I've never actually met any firefighters in real life, so quite possibly this is normal fire response behavior; to wait until the first fire has gone out, the insurance payout has come through and everyone has moved back in, redecorated, nursed the household pets through months of intensive therapy etc, before heading to the next fire? It doesn't seem all that likely.

    Traffic Problems

    Just like all SimCity vehicles, fire trucks use the same inadequate pathfinding decision making, not just for deciding which fires to go to (I think we've firmly established that they don't). They also spend a lot of time stuck in traffic whilst your buildings burn because for some utterly retarded reason ROAD TRAFFIC DOES NOT GIVE WAY TO EMERGENCY VEHICLES (head-meets-desk, why Maxis, why?). The only thing that is more painful than watching 20 fire trucks tearing off, sirens blaring in a conga line of inept enthusiasm after a fire at a shack in the middle of nowhere whilst a giant industrial complex turns into a pile of ash is watching the same 20 fire trucks sitting in traffic for DAYS at a time on their way to a fire which will have both spread and burned out by the time they get there.

    The fire trucks soon get their revenge on all the traffic which has stopped them from getting to work however; fires in busy central areas will see a queue of trucks clogging up a couple of city blocks, preventing all vehicles from turning into buildings or other roads on that side. Since road vehicles can't over-take if they need to be in the occupied lane by or before the end of the road, they'll just have to sit there, patiently (or otherwise) waiting until the fire is out.

    How to control fires

    If you're especially keen to get your fire trucks to a particular fire then you can try bulldozing the ends of roads that connect to the road they are stuck on as intersections do cause the most amount of traffic stagnation. You can also try de-zoning and bulldozing areas around a burning building, this will stop the fire spreading whilst they wait for your trucks to show up on scene. It's better to lose a few buildings in the short term and one pile of rubble, rather than watch half the neighborhood go up in flames. This is especally recommended if you have a disaster like a meteor strike.

    In general I would advise against buying more fire trucks and certainly more fire stations as a response to a sudden outbreak of multiple fires, because (essentially) 20 trucks will behave just as uselessly and ineffectively as 2. If your city is flushed with cash then rolling out fire response helicopters is a good idea as they will breeze over any traffic jams, but they do cost a lot and use a lot of water, and of course will still respond to fires one at a time in a swarm....

    For more information:

  • Surviving Disasters
  • Reducing Fire Risks

    The ideal way to deal with fires in SimCity is not to have them in the first place. There are a few ways of reducing the fire risk of buildings in your city.

    Educate your Sims

    Adding schools to your city and creating high enrollment will reduce fires. Any type of school will help, so long as it generates educated students.

    Education, education... more education

    Adding a Community College or University will lead to higher tech industries which are less prone to bursting into flames

    Adding Fire Marshal Garages

    If you have the large fire station then the Fire Marshal garage is a useful module. They visit buildings around the city and reduce their fire risk for several days. The more fire marshals you have the more Sims they can lecture about not falling asleep on their cheap, non-flame-retardant sofas with a lit cigarette after downing half a bottle of tequilla.

    Good Police Coverage

    Create good police coverage by adding enough patrols. Many fires get set by arsonists (who'd have thought?), so a lower crime rate also means less fire. Of coure Education also reduces crime...

    ... Did I mention education?

    For more information:

  • Education
  • Police
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