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  1. #1
    hunden
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default ISO and joining vol. departments

    I am looking for some feedback on our situation.

    Our small VFD for a town of 350 has one engine and approximately 10 firefighters. Exactly four road miles south of our town's station is another small town (and station) of about the same size with one engine; their VFD has about 8 firefighters. Between the city limits of the two towns, there are about three miles of unprotected, unincorporated hiway.

    Due to the small number of volunteers, limited budgets, and limited number of engines, we are considering combining the departments in some way.

    Some of the things we have thought of are:

    * Automatic aid agreement: With one engine in each town, ISO limits our responses outside of each of our city limits, correct? But there would be no restriction on sending personnel and equipment, right?

    * Actually combining the departments: If we have the city councils agree to merge the two departments, will we still have the ISO restriction to responding outside city limits with our engines?

    By adding a second engine into ONE of the towns, would we solve our responding outside of city limits problem. (ie. If there is a fire in the town with two engines, personnel from the other town come to man the second engine. If there is a fire in the town with one engine, one of the engines from the town with two engines responds.) In this case, would ISO credit both towns with two engines/lower ratings?

    Has anyone heard of two towns jointly buying an engine and sharing it?

    Has anyone heard of two towns having a shared/combined fire department, without having to form a fire district?

    Thank you for any help you can give,

    Mike Sherriff
    Kendick Idaho VFD
    hunden@idaho.tds.net


  2. #2
    fire
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default



    * Automatic aid agreement: With one engine in each town, ISO limits our responses outside of each of our city limits, correct? But there would be no restriction on sending personnel and equipment, right?

    That is correct if more than 10% of your resoponses are out of town you won't get credit for your own engine.

    * Actually combining the departments: If we have the city councils agree to merge the two departments, will we still have the ISO restriction to responding outside city limits with our engines?

    No

    By adding a second engine into ONE of the towns, would we solve our responding outside of city limits problem.

    Ye, what is your two rating now?

    (ie. If there is a fire in the town with two engines, personnel from the other town come to man the second engine. If there is a fire in the town with one engine, one of the engines from the town with two engines responds.) In this case, would ISO credit both towns with two engines/lower ratings?

    All depends

    Has anyone heard of two towns jointly buying an engine and sharing it?

    Yes

    Has anyone heard of two towns having a shared/combined fire department, without having to form a fire district?

    Yes


  3. #3
    Tanker
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default

    hunden
    One way to get some credit with ISO is Automatic Mutual Aid This can be done if your departments are with in 5 miles of each other. Then the equipment does count. Ihope this helps you out.

    ------------------


  4. #4
    Captain Hickman
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default

    Would it be possible or feasible to create a fire protection district? That is if you could get all parties to agree into it? With a district, both communities and the unprotected areas could be incorporated into one fire protection area. All involved parties would pay an assessed amount of money into the fire district. Then those funds and the district would be governed by a board of elected officals, which would be respondible for the fire protection of the area. NO one looses any protection and everyone pays their fair share. The taxes go only toward fire protection, purchase of equipment, training, and anything needed to improve the fire protection of the communities.

  5. #5
    fire
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default

    <One way to get some credit with ISO is Automatic Mutual Aid This can be done if your departments are with in 5 miles of each other. Then the equipment does count. Ihope this helps you out.>

    Not in this case

    <NO one looses any protection and everyone pays their fair share. The taxes go only toward fire protection, purchase of equipment, training, and anything needed to improve the fire protection of the communities. >

    Depends on the current ratings

  6. #6
    hunden
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default

    If you form a fire protection district, does it relieve the cities involved of any liability? For example, does the liability for the districts actions or inactions lie soley with the fire district, or do the cities share in the liability with the district?

    Fire:
    Do you have any examples of where two towns share one department without the formation of a formal fire district?

  7. #7
    fire
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default

    Tell me what the rating of each town.

  8. #8
    hunden
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default

    Each town is rated at a seven currently.

  9. #9
    Captain Hickman
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default

    hunden
    If you form a fire protection district, does it relieve the cities involved of any liability?

    It depends on how the district is set up. The district usually has a group of elected officals, which control the funding for the district. They usually hire someone or appoint someone to do and oversee the general operations of the district; chief/s, director, or what ever they name the individual. If the Cities choose to contract with the district, then the district is the governing body which is responsible for the liability of the district.


    For example, does the liability for the districts actions or inactions lie soley with the fire district, or do the cities share in the liability with the district?

    If the contract between the bodies involved is writen correctly everything falls onto the fire district.

    Once a district is voted in the only way to desolve it is by a vote of the people within the district. So if a district is formed it would be a joint agreement of all voter to support the district and to improve their fire protection.

    In our case, we are the only full time department with the county. Our district contracts with my city for protection. The district boardmembers are protected by insurance in case something goes wrong, but the City had the bigest part of the liability. At present we have 90 square miles in our district and we are only one of five districts within the county.


  10. #10
    Captain Hickman
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default

    I might add you should check to see if you state has a set of state statutes which might cover Fire Protection Districts. Those statures should cover what would or will be needed to establish a district. I have found that different states have different ideas on how things are done.

  11. #11
    Scott Clark
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default

    Hunden, I have found what was mentioned earlier that each state is a little different is right. And so is every ISO inspector. You should just contact ISO and get their "Fire Suppression Rating Schedule" it's only $45.00. It will answer all your questions and also don't be affraid to ask them for advice. If you ask them they will help you. Their not out to hurt fire districts they want them improved. Plus it also makes their job easier knowing your working to improve your status. Also I'm not sure about that 5 mile rule that was posted earlier, I think it maybe 5 minutes instead. I just went through setting up two stations in the same town and I believe that was the rule. If I find out differently I'll recontact you with the right information. The other thing ISO was quite concerned with was how many gallons of water could we pump per minute. That seemed to interest them more than anything in our non-hydranted section of town. Good luck and I hope this all works out for you.

  12. #12
    ka
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default

    Scott


    <<<I have found what was mentioned earlier that each state is a little different is right.>>>

    But all follow the same schedule.

    <<<<And so is every ISO inspector.>>>>

    And all have to follow the same schedule

    <<<<"Fire Suppression Rating Schedule" it's only $45.00. It will answer all your questions>>>>

    It won't answer all your questions, if it did, there wouldn't be two books on the market and 1000's of pages of field rep guides and explainations to use it, which are not available to the fire depasrtment.

    <<< and also don't be afraid to ask them for advice.>>>>

    Like the IRS they will not stand behind their advice.

    <<<<Also I'm not sure about that 5 mile rule that was posted earlier>>>>

    It came directly out of the document you suggest he buy. You are confusing automatic aid and station coverage.

    >>>>The other thing ISO was quite concerned with was how many gallons of water could we pump per minute. That seemed to interest them more than anything in our non-hydranted section of town. >>>>

    200 gpm for 20 minutes gets a Dwelling Class 8 in Idaho or 250 gpm for 2 hours a & or better as the flow increase. Over 15,000 depatments have never proven thy could move 250 gpm. Charlston SC has a Class 1 in town and a 9 out of town, the biggest paradox in the fire service.

    After you set up two departments, what did you get for a rating in the rural area?

    [This message has been edited by ka (edited 02-12-99).]

  13. #13
    Scott Clark
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default

    Ka, sounds like you had a bad experience with ISO. I don't know what to tell you except I have had good luck working with them and they have always backed their word with me. Also the 2 station project is not complete yet, and I'm no longer with that department. So I'll have to find out how they made out. Oh one other thing, your right that their "suppose" to follow the same schedule in every state, but you have have forgotten two things. 1 - The human factor, and 2 - everything is left up to interpretation.

  14. #14
    ka
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default

    <<<<that their "suppose" to follow the same schedule in every state, but you have have forgotten two things. 1 - The human factor, and 2 - everything is left up to interpretation.>>>>

    That is why you keep good notes and go over their head if needed, you better know about it than they do. It is a objective not a subjective schedule.

  15. #15
    hunden
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default

    I have been looking into forming a fire district. The formation and management is laid out pretty well in our state code. Liability issues aren't really covered.

    Now say we form a fire district and keep one engine in or near each town (see above). According to our ISO surveyor, we would be able to take both engines anywhere within the district without hurting our ISO rating; anything within the district would be considered an inside response.

    What about liability? Say there is a fire in town A and we respond with the engine that is housed in or near town A plus the engine that is housed in or near town B. If there is then a fire or incident in town B that we cannot quickly respond to, are we in deep trouble regarding liability?

    How about if both engine companies are training together in town A and there is a fire in town B? Are we being "grossly negligent?

    Finally, while we're on the topic of negligence, does anyone know of any web sites with info on negligence, liability, etc, as they apply to the volunteer fire department/officer?

    Thanks,
    Mike

  16. #16
    ka
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default

    >>>>Now say we form a fire district and keep one engine in or near each town (see above). According to our ISO surveyor, we would be able to take both engines anywhere within the district without hurting our ISO rating; anything within the district would be considered an inside response. <<<<

    1. You cannot possibly maintain the same rating you already have under the arrangment.

    Why? The areas of coverage will increase by 89% So you will need more engines, staffing and stations. You will inherit a non-hydranted area and those fire flows.

    You'll end up much worse off. Just do the right thing and get more apparatus and people and quit trying to run an organization on 8 to 10 people.


    >>>What about liability?<<<

    You don't offer any backup now. 1 engine one town needs an oil change town is uncovered. Quit trying to dodge the inevitable, tell the elected officials, put the liability on their shoulders, get a used rig as a backup, increase staffing. Who cares about liability you are already hnging and the lawyers will not fight your fires for you.









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