Thread: ISO Ratings

  1. #26
    Jim M. Guest


    Does anyone out there have a copy of ISO "FD Pumper Tests and Fire Stream Tables" in MS Word or pdf file format? If so, would appreciate e-mail copy to Thanks.
    Jim M.

  2. #27
    721 Guest


    Every part of the country has similiar yet different ratings, standards, etc.

    The description of your district sounds like there is little or no industry. It has been my experience that any municipal rating (from 1 to 8) will give the same home insurance rate to homeowners. The lower the rating does have major impact on industral and commerical insurance rates.

    My dept originally had a 9 rating (rural rating) and after improvements, etc. we earned a ISO rating of 6. This dropped my homeowners insurance by approximately 25%. Through futher improvements my home is now in a ISO 4 district, yet my insurance did not change.

    Do you need to have a rate lower than an 8? Set the goal that will do the department, and the residents of your district the most good. We all would like to have Class 1 or Class 2 painted on the side of our apparatus, but is it necessary and cost effective for a rural/residentual district?

    Good luck with your efforts, it certianly sounds like the attitude and goals of the department are on the right path.

  3. #28
    K A Guest


    Oh yeah, what's your iso rating? seems the only folks who whine have lousy ratings or don't understand the rating process. The book was written by firefighters, by the request of firefighters. Maybe you can get a cop to write the next one.

    [This message has been edited by K A (edited May 22, 1999).]

  4. #29
    K A Guest



    "Hear this now - fire departments are much too focused on the ISO public rating system that is old and outdated. "

    Funny thing it is based 100% on the Uniform Fire Code, NFPA standards and AWWA standards, are they out dated? It doesn't require much effort really.

    "It may be a good PR tool to show the public you are improving your ISO rating but are you really providing better protection or just playing a numbers game ?"

    So you only save the public $200 to 300 a year every year because you got your act together by meeting 50% of the standards. If that is PR sign me up. Oh making the water system match the fire flow needs, the apparatus match the community and being able to dial 911 seems pretty basicc, am I missing something here?

    "Keep in mind that hydro testing your hose, having flame retardant tarps on your ladder truck and many of the other nit pick items where ISO points are saved does nothing if you have poorly trained firefighters,"

    Except maybe save the firefighters life, save property, used 40 covers the other night. Oh yeah, ISO does hold you to a training standard. But you are right if you are clueless running the joint step down and let someone who has a clue in.

    "thus insurance rates must be reflective of modern FD's SOPS. "

    They offer two to four breaks nationwide with a 40 to 67% break in the process in rates. Lousy FD horrible rating, good FD mediocre rating, great FD awesome rating. Find an exception.

    "Thus, FEWER AND FEWER insurance companies are basing their rates on ISO ratings for residental and almost never for commercial or industrial properties."

    That is not true nationwide. A vast majority follow ISO, use their forms, etc. Commercial propert does better in the lower classes residential does better i the first 4 classes, like it should.

    " Just ask ISO of NY State, a ghost operation, that is rarely used for commercial pricings or property ratings any longer. "

    Could it be that 92% of the NY rural FD's have Class 9's? That is why. Th ig cities are group rated due to excessive losses. Basicly paying Clas 9 rates.

    "ISO is too prescriptive and almost not at all performance oriented."

    Really? A 3000 gallon building is rated based upon a 3000 gpm water system and delevery system. That's performance not rocket science. Answer 911 in 30 seconds 95% of the ime and handle the call in 60 seconds. Sounds performance to me. Shuttle a given amount or relay within time constraints. Engines 3 minutes apart ladders 4.9 minutes apart. Ladders the same height as your buildings.

    "Thus, loss statistics, volunteer vs paid FDs, protection/detection and construction are the predominant internal ratings used for insurance pricing structures. To make matters worse, fire is the least of most insurance carriers problem now that "all risk" policies have become the norm. The property insurance industry is much more concerned about flooding, hurricanes, tornados and other misc. losses (power outages, Y2K, sewer back-up, snow collapses, landslides, etc)."

    So Why do they continue to offer the fire breaks on the entire policy nationwide? Because it does matter!

    "Focusing on your ISO rating is NOT the direction to move in the year 2000 and beyond."

    If you don't habve a class 3 with or without hydrants, I'd say you are not much of an FD. Go ahead focus on mission statements, bonding, getting in touch with your emotions physical fitnes, RIT, 2 in 2 out and figure water supply out the night of the fire!

    "The focus should be on excellent customer service,"

    Here, let me hold your hand and will watch the place burn to the ground together then
    i'll give you a ride to a motel. What part of the current ISO would you throw out? The LDH hose credit? Get ride of the CAFS exception? Ground ladder to reach buildings? Backup generators? Nozzles? Airpacks? Staffing? Shuttling? Water supply? Divergence? Foam?

    " having well trained people and maintaining your valuable fire fighting equipment in the best condition possible."

    Do that and water and you are a class 3. If not what are you really? Odds are all form and no substance.

    How about some facts? Call your agent, he'll ask how close to a hydrant and station you are, he'll tell you the breaks in the class structure, why? it matters to your pocket book, oh, we got 1.9 million Thursday based upon the above facts to improve protection and save 37 to 75 million. It matters here! Did i mention more paid guys too? Gee we are the highest paid FF's in the state! Yeah think ISO has something to do with it? Just good fire service management. This shouldn't be a hobby.

  5. #30
    S. Cook Guest


    ISO is old and outdated?

    So then a a taxpayer in the community is wrong to expect:

    1. Someone to answer the phone in 60 seconds or less when they call for help; and,
    2. The conversation to be recorded if something is missed; and,
    3. A generator that works and is tested regularly to kick in at the dispatch center if thier power goes out; and,
    4. The apparatus they purchased to be equipped so that the firefighters have something to work with when they get there; and,
    5. The fire department to show up with enough personnel for the task at hand (I know, there is a staffing problem due to budgets, but ISO still expects a minimum number of folks to be there); and,
    6. The firefighters showing up are trained (ISO wants at least 20 hours of fire training a month); and,
    7. Enough apparatus and pumping capacity to serve the community; and,
    8. Enough water supply/movement capabilities (hydrants or tankers) to ensure that enough water will be available; and,
    9. On and on and on...

    If you don't buy into ISO for these reasons, then try this one. You can, in a sense, show a profit or loss with your ISO rating when compared to your budget. The FD is the ONLY public service that saves the public money.

    And if your insurance company won't lower the rate, find one that will. If you doubt the savings, check out the rate guide on this page for an example -

    Toward the bottom of the page you'll see a chart with 4 owner classes on it. Owners A & B are brick and wood homes with class 4 protection. Owners C & D are brick and wood with class 9. There's a $331.00 average savings there for each home every year for 15 years. Then there's more savings for commercial, crops, renters, churches, schools, and anything else that can be insured against fire loss.

    And, there's this quote from an executive VP at State Farm Fire and Casualty Company “We believe that homeowners who support improvements in fire protection through their tax dollars should be rewarded with lower insurance rates.”

  6. #31
    K A Guest


    ""For the record, my rural-metro volunteer fire dept has a Class 3 ISO rating. ""

    Possibly, but only within 1000 feet of a fire hydrant. You are a Class 9 at 1001 feet.

    "You can eventually get 30 people to a fire but lose the joint because the first due engine got there in 2 minutes but only had an officer, operator and nozzleman. "

    So how many do you run on a rig? 3 gets you 50% credit. Which matches the Dallas study on crew effectivenes. You get complete station placement credit, that seems fair, you get credit for whay you really can do.

    "ISO will STILL give good credit for the total attendance at that fire but the end result was poor."

    They give 1/3 to 1/6 credit for total attendance first alarm only in a volly dept and actual attendance first alaram in a career department.

    "Where does ISO account for sufficient numbers of interior FFs being there promptly to attack the fire fast ?"

    They use the records of the last three years responses.

    "I can cover a couch with clear poly film and do as good a job as an expensive flame retardent tarp by protecting it from water & smoke damage."

    But can you haul a burning couch out with it, ramp a large flow of water, walk on it for hours as a runner on stairs, build a chute with it, use it as a rubble hauler, cover a roof or window with it, use it in a heat environment? No, so you get partial or no credit as you should. If you choose to ignore salvage and you can it costs 28 points out of 2093 points for your apparatus.

    "Why spend $ on the higher cost equipment - just for the ISO credit ? "

    Such as?

    "Now show me what this has to do with an "insurance rating system ? I prevented further damage with the equipment at hand ! "

    You can only do a very small percentage of what a real savage cover can do.

    "Training hours means nothing - anyone can sit in class for 4 hours/week."

    And anyone can get elected as fire chief, as a memeber, etc. The title engineer or doctor just says you passed does infer a grade. They require topics and drill time. The time is based upon NFPA, IFSTA, Fire Chiefs handbook, and ICMA.

    " What is the measured performance of the firefighters, can they really do their job ?"

    Read NFPA performance stanards for firefighters.

    "Are they afraid to make the door OR are they gung ho, get the job done and lets go home guys ? "

    Let's take it all the way, you are not a paramedic so you should get less credit. If you are not a haz mat technicial you ought to get less, etc. You offer less to the community. ISO is a conflagration code, if you stand out side with the right amount of water and hit the exposure the fire stays put. ISO grades the fire code and building department as well and that will insure compliance and low rate of spread.

    ""Look above, depts are worrying about losing 0.73 points because of no steamer conns on their hydrants ! Use a 2.5" x 5" storz adaptor and be done with it. What does this have to do with property insurance ?"

    What hydrant manufacturer produces a compliant large diameter barrel for a twin 2 1/2" hydrant? There is more to it than port size. 2000 gpm out of a 2 1/2" requires 110 psi versus 11 psi, see a difference? That might just be the most expensive .73% or it coulbe be the difference in moving the required flow. The original cost to put the correct hydrant in was almost nothing. If you followed AWWA and NFPA you wouldn't be bring these issues up. If you did it right there wouldn't need to be an ISO.

    "You still got water into the pumper in a sufficient quantity to put out the fire !"

    Maybe. One requires a 110 psi residual and the other 11 psi. So a 500 foot lay at 2000 gpm would only need a hydrant pressure of
    of 61 or 160 psi. Have you got 160 pound residual hydrants? I doubt it.

    "Does a fire dept, with no public water supply, really need ISO to force them into a good water supply shuttle plan just to keep insurnace rates in town low ?"

    No they don't, ISO doesn't force anyone to do anything, you simply pay for the lack of protection you offer. Less than 1/3 of all the rural fd's have anything better than 9's. Only 7 depts in CA, 130 in WI, 6 in NY, 5 in PA have rural water ratings off shuttles. Not bad out of 6000 fd's. Yeah they need help, should they be trusted to do the right thing? Obviously not.

    "Hopefully not, there are many experts, magazines and books to do that."

    So why aren't they able to flow 250 gpm anywhere in their district? If they can they never proved it to ISO. Only 4 places ever met 100% of the fire flow out of 88,000 ratings.

    "There are many ways to skin a cat. I believe ISO is too prescriptive in worrying about specific prepardness items, not what the FD can do while actually while performing at fires."

    Do you agree in water and FD ability to move it? Should engines carry at least 50% of the NFPA list and trucks 33%? Should you be able to get a dispatcher in 30 seconds from the time you dial 911? SHould your ladder reah the windows and roofs in your town? SHould sprinkled buildings be exempt? With over half the cities in the US only scoring a Class 5 should ISO raise the bar? And most of th rural guys are a 7 or worse.

    "Everyone knows of an engine company or entire department that shows up and the fire just never seems to go out very fast."

    How many of them are Class 1, 2, or 3's? The 1's only total 31 depts, Class 2's 80.

    "They may even be part of a Class 1 department and the property owner already got $ savings from their insurance carrier. "

    Name a place? Give examples? You don't get a one with 3 or 4 on a rig. You would need to be running 6 to 18 per unit. Or run a lot more than the standard number of units.

    "What did that Class 1 rating do for the property owner or insurance company - nothing ! "

    All breaks stop at a Class 2. But the same thing required to get a Class 2 get you a Class 1 or CLass 3. If you really believe all this why get anything but a C grade in school, you'll still graduate. If the community did the right thing big flows wouldn't be an issue because everything would be sprinkled.

    "Customer service was still poor."

    Where, which Class 1 fd has poor service? Weard isn't it that Class 1's and accredited departments are the same places.

    "Maybe ISO should actually rate each fire department scientifically using a formula that takes into account their fire severity, frequencies, dollar losses per year and potential loss. "

    The old rating was 100% subjhective, much tightwer and the fie service whined, now we got what we asked for written by fire people and we are still whining. Can we change the test so we can do better? Why not step up to the plate and get it handled? They already do base the rates on experience. If you live in NY your fire experience. los and deaths is three times higher than CA. And Mississippi is twice as bad as you. And HI isn't one 17th NY. On top of that base rate they add the classes. In FL it starts at $1200 in Montana 800 etc. They even offer an experience level rating only. LA county gets a Class 4 and a Class 9. LA city only has a CLass 2 but has Class 1 written on their rigs.

    "I am not advocating abolishment of the ISO rating system but simply suggesting fire departments do not focus on the points. Because many of the things that save ISO points don't put out fires as I've stated above. "

    Such as? Offer more than salvage and 2 1/2" ports. Sure salvage covers will not put out fires. Not following the national standards and putting big ports on hydrants, using the right size supplies to hydrants, etc does effect water flow. It does effect fire flows. Letting each FD determine what they want to flow in a shuttle makes sure the math formula will not work the day of the fire.

    Are you really saying well placed, adequately staffed, compliant, tested apparatus doesn't fight fires? Two engines and a Truck supplied off a good water system that matches the fire flow need of the community with 18 to 54 members and a chief per call isn't a good thing? That is 81% of the rating. Answer the phone in 30 seconds you score 10 more points. Train to the minimum standard and you get all 100 points. 31 places have done it, two of which volunteer. Is it possible your FD just isn't good enough so you want to chanfge the rules to something you can meet?

    "Spend money where it makes sense for your own community - buying three $350,000 tanker/pumpers with 2000 ft LDH each may equal a new village water system ! "

    I really feel you don't understand the rating system. IF you did, you wouldn't have said the above, because you and the ISO are in complete agreement.

    "I am also suggesting ISO broaden the scope of their rating system to account for field performance of every fire department."

    So Lets make every FD a Class 9? If they can't score well on the current system they will only do worse. You won't see the rating system change in your life time. Why? It already does a good job at predicting loss. It is time for the fire service to do the right thing and measure up.

    Let's broden the scope. Communication 10 points. Anything you want to change there?

    Water 40 points plus you lose points if it is better or worse than your fd. Should the water system be capable of flowing the needed fire flow? ISO puts a limit at 3500 gpm shall we shot for 10,000?

    FD, apparatus and equipment is worth 26 of the 50 poonts. People and training are worth 24 points or more. What do you propose changing?

    You don't use CAFS so you are 50% less effective and do more water damage. So you shouldn't be able to get anything but Class 5.

    You hae 200 foot building that are unsprinkled and do't have 200 foot ladders to park on each side so you shouldn't be able to get the score i get in a mobile home community. Oh we run 8 on a rig you run 3. Pretty subjective, versus today's objective open book test version of being rated.

    Your Class 9 proves you don't know how to move water in your rural areas. Sounds like you've got lots on your plate to work on. Let's not lower the standars for medic or the ISO fire requirements until a majority can achieve the low mark set today.

  7. #32
    K A Guest


    ""The end !!"" I don't think so!

    ""My point is that FDs should concentrate on being excellent service providers and the rest (ISO rating, etc.) will follow.""

    The two are perfectly linked.

    ""Yes, there are homeonwer insurance savings for lowering the ISO rating. But going from Class 9 to 4 is a savings of about 1/3 of their premium - or about $300 for an average $150k home.""

    Or it can be $1000. Depends where you live.

    ""(i.e., GM doesn't pay ISO rates on their plants).""

    And your town is not made up of GM plants it is made up of businesses who do pay ISO rates. So it does matter.

    ""if each homeowner paid that $300 in fire tax, it would only buy 1% of a tanker or 2.5 ft of 12 in. underground water main. ""

    I'm not usre you understand how all these departments in the US throw all their rigs away and start over all at once. Let me do the math for you. The average cost per capita for fire protection in the US for a volunteer fd is $38. The average career department gets $87. So if you are saying increasing your budget by $300 per home is insignificant, I guess I don't understand. However, if you have 5000 people in your district and you ask for $50 of the $300 savings you end up with $7,500,000 over the rating to buy the tanker or for water mains.

    If that amount is insignificant then you must have a pretty nice budget.

    ""It comes down to "cost vs. benefit"""

    Sure does, there is the benefit (above) and the cost. You give me $50 bucks and I'll give you $250 bucks every year for 15 years. If you don't give me $50 then pay the entire $300 to your insurance dude so he can have a nice car and you can have a lousy FD.

    ""the FD/municipality has control over the tax spending."

    Can you sell the above 50 for 300 example?

    ""Do what is best for the taxpayers and that may not always be what is best for their ISO ratings.""

    For 50% of the fire service it is! Always, never, have to, must... they rarely apply in our business.

    ""In closing, a mandatory local sprinkler law may be an even better solution than pumping money into the FD or insurance cos. pockets.""

    Oh really? If you start sprinkling everything today you will still be stuck with all the existing buildings and the fire problem there in. Only one state has ever gone back and forced every commercial building to retrofit sprinklers. Cost vs benefit?

    Just figure out the water thing and follow a couple NFPA standards and you'll be a Class 3 with or without hydrants. It's not that tough. Not having a good ISO is just an excuse for many lousy FD's who won't figure out what is needed to protect their community.

  8. #33
    Mike C Guest


    Does anyone in the northeast or New England have a decent ISO rating with shuttles or hose?????????????????????????????????? I'm not talking hydrants. 1000 feet away or more.

  9. #34
    Mike C Guest


    Does anyone in the northeast or New England have a decent ISO rating with shuttles or hose?????????????????????????????????? I'm not talking hydrants. 1000 feet away or more.


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