Thread: ISO Ratings
01-21-1999, 12:04 AM #1trk1engnrFirehouse.com Guest
I'd love to share ideas with anyone on ISO. We'd like to drop the rating in our community by 5 or 6 classes maybe 7, in the fall. We have one hydrant 3 to 11 miles from any buildings. A few cisterns. We are volunteers. We cover 75 square miles with 3,000 houses on 5 to 35 acre lots. Any thoughts, ideas, suggestions, experiences, would be appreciated. Know any good consultants, books, helps?
The financial incentive is 832 to 3000 dollars on the table per home each year for the next 15 years.
01-22-1999, 10:09 AM #2Dalmation90Firehouse.com Guest
First thing I would do is contact ISO and purchase a copy of the Fire Suppression Rating Schedule. It's $48.
Dropping your rating may be a multi-year project. I just this week got a copy, and it even has points for how you list your emergency and business phones in the phone book. Nothing looks to difficult, just gotta make sure you do all the simple things, invest where you need to, and make sure you can document, document, document.
01-22-1999, 11:58 AM #3FSRIZZIOFirehouse.com Guest
That's right get the rating book first. Don't be intimidated by the major formula that is used to calculate the final rating. Go through the book one section at a time, if you don't understand something call your regional rep. direct, they'll talk to you and give you lots of good info. that's their job. It's not that hard to get a handle on, but it will probably take time and money to get where you want to be. Once again -don't be intimidated by the process- my Dept. took a logical approach a few years ago and went from a rating of 8 to a 5 by simply organizing what we had. Before that the people that were "in the know" made it sound impossible. By the way, if you drop 5,6 or 7
rating points with the water system you seem to have, you'll certainly be in the headlines. Good Luck, and don't give up.
[This message has been edited by FSRIZZIO (edited 01-22-99).]
01-23-1999, 09:11 AM #4HarryRCarterPhDFirehouse.com Guest
As a consultant, I would agree with the preceeding replies. You must get the rating schedule. In addition, contact the Society of Fire Protection Engineers for a copy of Dr. Harry Hickey's excellent book, Fire Suppression Rating Schedule Handbook. SFPE is located at 1 Liberty SquareBoston, MA 02109-4825. The cost for the text is around $100, but well worth the money, because it tales great pains to translate the rating schedule into a useable format. I have used it in a number of instances to help me create improvements in rural, and suburban settings
[This message has been edited by HarryRCarterPhD (edited 01-23-99).]
01-24-1999, 03:08 PM #5trk1engnrFirehouse.com Guest
As a consultant, what is the best ISO rating you've ever attained for a department without a municipal water system who had to rely on shuttles?
The folks who suggested the grading schedule should know, it offers zero guidance on rural water supply, thanks anyway. In fact the first 60 points as suggested in order would not apply.
Hickey's book seems to just read the schedule to the reader, it isn't a how to book, it is more of a, this is what the schedule says book. It did offer some rural water info. It had a couple very big mistakes in rural water supply that contradicts the ISO schedule and when I called the Chicago office and asked about the book they laughed and said, "it not our book." Eventhough two of their guys were the technical consultants on it.
Whoever e-mailed the book Your Next Rating, it seems the most how to and useable, thanks. I liked the free price too.
All three books were quite clear, records are not important, training is not important, doesn't matter how many people we have, training doesn't matter, how many stations, how many pumpers, what we carry, if we got pump tests or hose tests, doesn't matter if you have a ladder truck, phone numbers don't matter, or how good the dispatch center is. None of that will make any difference in a town without a water system.
01-24-1999, 10:09 PM #6Ken ApelFirehouse.com Guest
I disagree with your statement that none of these thing matter. I have a five rating with no water system, all water hauled by tankers. If you will tell your inspector that you are a "haul water" department he will send you some supplemental questions based on you ability to haul water. You must show you can supply 250 gpm minimum for two hours. The rest of it is rated by the amount needed just like a water system. If you can supply 400 gpm then thats what you'll get credit for and all the other things in the rating schedule come into play. I felt it was a very fair system of grading.
01-24-1999, 11:06 PM #7trk1engnrFirehouse.com Guest
That is right, if you can't move 250 gpm the rest of the stuff doesn't matter, you stay a Class 9, period.
01-25-1999, 12:55 AM #8PhredFirehouse.com Guest
Please don't keep it a secret - give us the details on the book "Your Next Rating" that you mentioned two posts ago. If you don't know where it came from, maybe the sender will see this and post some information.
Lots of us are interested in changing our ISO class and this forum is a good way to exchange ideas.
Phred from Ohio
02-11-1999, 12:46 AM #9jdhafpdFirehouse.com Guest
Do you know who your ISO rep is for your area? I was introduced to ISO during a number of our state and local association meetings. I was ignorant of all the rules and regulations, so I asked to meet with my local rep. It was through discussions directly with him, that I was able to better understand what they were looking for, and what I had to do. Who better to talk to than the ones doing the rating. I found ISO was more than happy to sit down and explain what it was I had to do to meet the requirements, and move our department forward.
Through my dealings with them, I have found they are not the bad guys I was told to expect. Instead, I found a highly professional organization that was more than happy to answer my questions and concerns, and educate me in getting where it was I wanted to go. We don't always agree, but it's their game. In order to win, we play by their rules.
02-11-1999, 08:06 AM #10fireFirehouse.com Guest
"I disagree with your statement that none of these thing matter. I have a five rating with no water system. The rest of it is rated by the amount needed just like a water system... all the other things in the rating schedule come into play."
The district north of us has a 5. Two tankers, a phone ring down system, trains 2 hours every other month, 8 members, zero records, one engine 1979 vintage, I agree with the other guy in a rural area, "All that other stuff doesn't matter." Points Com 10, Water 36( fire flow 500), FD 16(staffing 1, training 1, pumps 5, trk 2, app 5, dist 3) Div -11.7 Total = 50.3 pts
02-11-1999, 04:10 PM #11Ken ApelFirehouse.com Guest
fire- I would question how they were able to pull off a 500gpm fire flow with two tankers. Except for the 36 water supply and 10 comm. points with a ring down system the points look about right( 4.3). Are you sure they are not pulling your leg a little.I would really like to hear more about this one.
02-11-1999, 04:52 PM #12fireFirehouse.com Guest
I have a copy of their Clasification and Improvement Statement and their Water Supply Totals. It says Class 5. Two hour test results:
Unit fill dump tank90% 1 mile 2 mile
T21 3.3 1.3 2880 310gpm 227gpm
T11 3.4 2.4 3600 365gpm 272gpm
675 gpm 499 gpm
The district north of them has five 5's without shuttling just nurse tankers.
02-12-1999, 11:09 AM #13F02Firehouse.com Guest
Duneland School of Emergency Response is having an ISO class taught by an ISO rep 4/11and12 in Chesterton IN.Check www.tft.com/duneland
02-21-1999, 08:40 AM #14chiefnfdFirehouse.com Guest
I would like to know what the benifit, to reducing the ISO rating is. Is it just a great deal of paper work? Does it really benifit the communities we work in?
Regards, Raymond Godfrey
02-21-1999, 01:05 PM #15TankerFirehouse.com Guest
Your local Insurance Agency goes by ISO ratings to figure out what rating your area is. The higher, say a 10, you pay the maximum in insurance premimum. If you have a 5 you will save a lot on your insurance. So yes, it does benefit your area to work at having a lower ISO rating.
02-21-1999, 03:09 PM #16Ken ApelFirehouse.com Guest
Chiefnfd--In the last two years my department has gone from a class 9 to a class 5 ISO rating.This has saved me 49% of my insurance premium. Everyone else in the district has seen the same , or nearly the same saving. The public support for the department gone way up and the feeling inside the department is pride and assurance now. Recruiting is easy,everyone wants to be part of a progressive organization. I feel that no matter how much trouble it is to improve your ISO class, it's well worth it
03-01-1999, 06:35 PM #17montezumafFirehouse.com Guest
I think chasing your rating yourself is foolish. We watched out neighbors spend 7.1 million dollars to lower their fire insurnace rating. They bought lots of trucks, equipment and stations. When it was all done their rating stayed unchanged. Many others in our area went after theirs as well and came up with lousy scores. Too much of the process in a rural ara is a secret. In fact our rater ad two 6 inch books to guide him that are not available to the fire service. Further the lone book on the market totally sucks.
We are a rather poor fire district and wanted to do the right thing. All of our apparatus is second hand and nothing is newer than 1980.
We brought in a consultant who had attained the best rural ratings for volunteers in the country. We knew we didn't know enough about ISO to do it ourselves. He told us in advance our neighbors rating would not change because they bought all the wrong stuff. It turned out he was right. The consultant said we'd be lucky to drop 4 classes in town and 7 in the rural area. We visited the last place he did and they dropped 5 and 9 classes. So we thought we'd give him a try.
He ICS'd the process and we assigned projects to all our members. We had to learn how to shuttle, relay, organize our records and write policies and procedures. He said if we could figure out how to flow 3500 gpm in the rural area we could get a better rating out of town than in town. He showed us how to get 3500 gpm credit in town with a 750 gpm water system. We made lots of cool things to make us a better fire department. We also painted our hydrants. Even though it wasn't required it saved us flow testing 10 hydrants for ISO. We preplanned every building and did extensive mapping.
ISO sent two inspectors to grade us. Normally a town only gets one. They worked us over pretty good. The rating eventually came back from the ISO. It was wrong. The consultant called and explained the mistakes made and that dropped us an entire class.
The numbers were 9.1 for communications out of 10. Everyone else in the county got 7.5 for the same communications center because the consultant knew what the ISO was asking and the folks at dispatch didn't.
The water system scored 39.28 out of 40. We lost 0.72 points for not having enough steamer style hydrants in certain areas. Even though our largest main was a 6" and most were 4" we almost got all the credit even with a fire flow requirement of 3500 gpm spread out over town. The ideas of the consultant paid off.
The fire department only scored 0.67 for reserve pumpers out of 1, 0.78 for station distribution out of 4, we got 2.54 out of 15 for staffing, 1.2 for preplans out of 1.2, and 4.2 out of 7.8 for training, and 21 out of 21 for apparatus and pump capacity.
We lost 7.49 points for divergence because our shuttle was better than the fire department. When it was totaled we got 71.19 out of 100 points.
Our old rating was a ISO Class 10 in the rural area and a ISO Class 7 in town. We dropped the city rating to a Class 3 in the hydranted part of town of 1800 people. We were only able to drop our rural rating in a 75 square mile area to a Class 3 because we couldn't figure out how to shuttle over 3100 gpm two miles.
The down side of a rating is petty jealousy. All of our big city neighbors hate us because of it. The other issue that always comes up is none of the insurance agents writting a policy can believe it. We cost them a fortune in commissions.
As it turns out, we have reportedly the second lowest rural ISO rating in the country now. It also turns out our rural rating is better than all but one of the big city hydranted career deparments in the state. The cost to the fire department was pretty high. Almost $15,000 to acquire the things we needed. We had to buy two dump valves, a drop tank and accelerate buying big hose for our engines.
The savings to the community is barely 62.5% on their premiums. That is only $377 to $3400 a year on the homes in the district. The rating will stand for 15 years so something like $25 million is saved. The school district saves $18,000 a year. The FD budget is around $75,000. In other words the fire department budget is returned to the taxpayers every 22 days.
One final thought, the consultant said you should ask for money up front because it you do well on your rating you'll never get any money from the public because they think you are great. A town down south asked for the money up front with the promise of a better rating and now has an all new fleet. Our bond failed.
03-01-1999, 08:16 PM #18Ken ApelFirehouse.com Guest
montezumaf-After reading your entire post I fail to understand you opening remarks.Your saving an estimated 25 mil for your people and you say it's not worth chasing.It looks like you've done every thing right and have gotten an excellent rating. Perhaps you bitter about the loss of the bond issue and I wouldn't blame you there but don't confuse the two. The ISO book you refer to only gives their requirements. It is not intended to be a "how to" book.thats where you have done such a good job. It's not up to them to tell you how to run you department, only what they will look for when rating you. Rest assured, many departments would love to trade places with you. Relax and enjoy
03-01-1999, 08:18 PM #19Ken ApelFirehouse.com Guest
montezumaf-After reading your entire
post I fail to understand you opening
remarks.Your saving an estimated 25
mil for your people and you say it's
not worth chasing.It looks like you've
done every thing right and have gotten
an excellent rating. Perhaps you
bitter about the loss of the bond
issue and I wouldn't blame you there
but don't confuse the two.
The ISO book you refer to only gives
their requirements. It is not intended
to be a "how to" book.thats where you
have done such a good job. It's not up
to them to tell you how to run you
department, only what they will look
for when rating you.
Rest assured, many departments would
love to trade places with you. Relax
03-01-1999, 09:05 PM #20kaFirehouse.com Guest
"I think chasing your rating yourself is foolish" Montizuma was prett clear don't chase it yourself, get an expert to bail you out. I'd add get a copy of "Your Next Rating" It is a how to guide to do it yourself.
03-01-1999, 09:08 PM #21kaFirehouse.com Guest
their requirements>> <<. Further the lone book on the market totally sucks.
I'm sure he is referring to Hickey's rag and you are referring to the grading schedule which says nothing about rural water ratings.
04-08-1999, 09:42 AM #22Jim M.Firehouse.com Guest
[This message has been edited by Jim M. (edited May 10, 1999).]
04-08-1999, 09:42 AM #23Jim M.Firehouse.com Guest
There are two separate references to the book "Your Next Rating". Does anyone know who publishes this book and where it may be purchased? Our local FF suppliers have not heard of it.
04-08-1999, 05:27 PM #24PhredFirehouse.com Guest
Jim M. and others,
"Your Next Rating" is a long article written by Larry Stevens (in 1997) that gives a step-by-step plan to follow in order to prepare for an ISO Grading Inspection.
Fallon/Churchill (Nevada) VFD has a nice web site that includes a copy of "Your Next Rating" which you can read or download. There are also other interesting articles on this site. Try this link to Fallon/Churchill:
The article title links are near the bottom of this page.
04-26-1999, 12:52 PM #25Jim M.Firehouse.com Guest
Phred, thanks for the URL. Very long, but very comprehensive. Will be helpful in justifying future $$$$.
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