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Thread: ISO Ratings

  1. #1
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    Default ISO Ratings

    How low can you get the ISO Rating in the rural areas. We are looking at setting up an automatic mutual aid agreement with the local city fire departments where they will be dispatched to any structure fire in our district first page. This will give us access to a pumper truck. We will need to supply the tankers for the water shuttle. Additional tankers can be supplied by surrounding districts. We have been told 5 miles out from the stations. Does that mean 5 miles from the city station or from the rural stations. Could be a big savings for the homeowners. We are at a 9/10 in the rural areas now. One of the cities in our area is a 7 and the other is a 4. What can we get the rating down to, an 8, a 7, or a 4? It is a lot easier sell to the board members if the savings is substantial. It is also easier to justify purchasing tankers for the water shuttle. We currently have no dump tanks, or tanker trucks with newton dumps. We would basically be starting from scratch. How cheap can you put a tanker together on a 5 ton 6x6 chassis. I got some quotes on beds and tanks. I thought they were a little high.


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    If I am not mistaken we were told 5 road miles from the station. When we went through our ISO rating a couple of years ago they did both our stations at the same time basically. So I am not sure if it is from the assigned department or if the MA dept is also included. I believe it is included as long as it is a written agreement and Dispatch does send both deptartments at the same time.
    Les Hartford
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    I'm pretty sure, no matter what, 5 miles from a station in an unhydranted area is a 10 and I think even then hydrants don't help. Something to keep in mind

    Eric

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    Okay your in kind of a tough spot here but you can actually improve without the hydrants ISO grades you on 3 areas
    Recieving and handling alarms- 10% of overall score
    Fire department (Traigning and equipment) 50% of overall score
    Water supply 40% of overall score
    So as the report reads you could actually go as low as a 6 without an efficent water supply assuming al other ares were excellant. As far as cost this could get quite expensive as far as meeting ISO's demands. Another thing to consider is if in your 5 mile area their is a commercial water service (tanker service where you could commondere a tanker in an emergency) this worked for us and was a big help.

    In The end insurance rates will go down as you get away from the 9/10 rating. This is also a good thing to put in your fire grant as it will increase chances of getting a grant.

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    The last post made reference to comendiring non-fire dept tankers. You may also want to consider cement mixer trucks as a source to carry water, we have done this before and they work great.

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    5 road miles from your station is generally what will be impacted, but there are cases where farther areas have been dropped to lower than a 9. Fallon/Churchill NV comes directly to mind.

    You can go as low as a 1, but if you cannot move 250gpm for 2 hours (caluclated), you cannot get less than a 9 no matter how many other points you get for training, dispatch and other. The time clock for flowing 250gpm for 2 hours starts 5 minutes from the time the first due company arrives on scene. This gives you some time to set up drop tanks and supply lines.

    Generally support units that have to come from over 8.5 miles away will not be creditable unless you can maintain the 250gpm until they arrive. This is due to ISO's allowable drive time/speed for tankers.

    As far as commandeering tanker support, you have to have a written agreement with the tanker operator for around the clock support, each tanker has to have a warning light and a radio.
    Last edited by ScottCook; 05-09-2004 at 11:56 AM.
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    We contacted our local ISO guy and had him come out for a presentation. He explained everything in great detail, it was a little dry, but VERY informative.

    Also contact other departments in your area who have recently gone through an ISO review. They will be able to give you hints and ideas for the area you live in. What works in one area, may not work in another.

    Good luck!
    ftm-ptb
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    If your area is mainly single family residential you may want to look into a residential 8 rating. If you meet the criteria for an ISO 9 and can supply 200 GPM for 20 minutes (4000 gallons total) you can have an 8 rating that applies only to your residences. A couple of 2000 gallon tankers is all you need. It is a quick and cheap way to lower the rates for the homeowners in your district (compared to a full blown 250 GPM for 2 hour shuttle and all of the other requirements you must meet for a district wide 8 or lower rating) . I don't personally know of a department that has done this but this is in the information presented by Ray Crouch in his How to Improve Your Fire Department ISO Rating class.
    Contact ISO and ask them to send you the Supplemental Criteria for a Residential 8 Rating.

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    How effectively a company operates during the first few minutes of the attack has the greatest bearing on the fire loss. Ratings based on hauling water for hours to a lost cause makes little sense to me.

    It's easy to see why some insurance companies do not use ratings from ISO's antique system and are beginning to use loss history.

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    Originally posted by Station32
    Okay your in kind of a tough spot here but you can actually improve without the hydrants ISO grades you on 3 areas
    Recieving and handling alarms- 10% of overall score
    Fire department (Traigning and equipment) 50% of overall score
    Water supply 40% of overall score
    So as the report reads you could actually go as low as a 6 without an efficent water supply assuming al other ares were excellant. As far as cost this could get quite expensive as far as meeting ISO's demands. Another thing to consider is if in your 5 mile area their is a commercial water service (tanker service where you could commondere a tanker in an emergency) this worked for us and was a big help.

    In The end insurance rates will go down as you get away from the 9/10 rating. This is also a good thing to put in your fire grant as it will increase chances of getting a grant.
    While you can make definite improvements, getting a 6 without a decent water supply is a bit of a stretch, even though the 10/50/40 score breakdown is correct. That's because of the evil formula for divergence, which evens out the score if you're particularly strong in one area but not in the other.

    That said, if everything else is top-notch, I think a 7 might be an approachable long-term goal. In the meantime, at least you can go for the new 8B rating...
    http://www.isomitigation.com/fire75.html

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    "How effectively a company operates during the first few minutes of the attack has the greatest bearing on the fire loss. Ratings based on hauling water for hours to a lost cause makes little sense to me.

    It's easy to see why some insurance companies do not use ratings from ISO's antique system and are beginning to use loss history."


    My thoughts exactly. I have always believed ISO ratings are just an ego thing and a paperwork shuffle. Rating Fire Departments on dollar loss verses dollar save is a much better way to evaluate the effectivness and efficiency of a Fire Department.

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    Amen Ricky

    Too much emphasis on the apparatus and not enough on the manpower that rides them.

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    And then manpower is when the fun starts. I forget the exact ratio, but supposedly a volunteer only counts as a fraction of a career firefighter. Even if a firefighter is a career FF somewhere else or has career-equivalent certs (IFSAC), if they are operating in a volunteer capacity with the department being graded, they don't count as 1. 1/3rd or something stupid like that. Not sure why the same person counts for two different manpower values for two departments, but that does add into the ludicrous nature of the ISO grading.

    Same with what ricky said. If you can knock out a good sized fire with a first in truck with tank water and CAFS, your rating isn't as low as a department that can't put the fire out but they can throw 300gpm on it for hours to save the foundation.

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    BC79er,

    It is divided by 3 or if records aren't kept correctly 6.

    Here are some guesses as why a volunteer isn't counted the same as a career member.

    A volly isn't always at the firehouse. Where a career fire company would have 4 on and Engine and 5 on a Truck and it is given there is always 4 or 5 on the rig... A volunteer house would have no garauntee as to how many will show up to an alarm. That is why if you always wanted at least 4 or 5 members many volly companies would require 3 to 4 times as many persons on the Roster to ensure that they will almost always get that turnout. If a company averages lets say 4 members turnout for alarms...then there are many runs where 1 2 or 3 members show up. So even though there are some where 5 6 7....show up the insurance companies want to take in the effect of less than adequate turnouts.

    Also many Volunteers have members that only drive or only change bottles, or don't make entry, etc. I don't know of any such arangement in the paid profesional depts.

    I doubt it has anything to do with IFSAC or any other BS certification.

    FTM-PTB
    Last edited by FFFRED; 05-11-2004 at 01:22 PM.

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    All true, but the manpower numbers they use are the ones for how many people showed up. And that means we're being punished for not having people that just drive, or are just exterior (and not command) like other departments. All of our people have to be able to bunk up and go in when necessary. If not, they don't ride the trucks, which means they either have to ride the ambulance, or not belong. Other departments couldn't do that because they only take people from within their district. We take people from anywhere that are willing to do the job. So we're not limited in membership, and can afford to say adios to those that don't meet the requirements.

    As far as scheduling, we have 13 paid guys M-F 6-6. We have a minimum of 16 scheduled volunteers the rest of the time, plus whoever else shows up. So we are guaranteed 16 people on a call and have been averaging 27 even during the daytime with volunteers that work nights and shifts showing up with the day crew. So do those 14 volunteers plus 13 paid add up to only 17-1/3rd? And since we average 27 with no paid crew on (even though 16 are scheduled), does that mean we only have 9 for ISO rating? Dumb. Plain bureaucratic stupidity.

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    Read

    www.isomitigation.com and www.isoslayer.com then call ISO. All written in English. Just ignore the BS from those above who haven't/can read/educated themselves. There is more whining about ISO than most any subject from the "way we have always done it/want to do it" dinosaurs. See above. Find a dept member that has successfully prepared for and undergone a military equipment/maintenance/records inspection and have them take the lead. Not brain surgery; read the standards, understand the standards, follow the standards. Not that complicated.

    You have to attack water, equipment, manpower, training, and commo. And ignore the nonsense from those posting that don't know _____.

    Depending on state and state insurance regs. Some insurance companies operating in your area may not follow ISO, modify it. That is your efforts to improve the protection you proved to you taxpayers may be ignored. Particularily in rural (out of city limits). Some insurers use a distance from station other than 5mi (more or less), difference std on distance from hydrant/water source.

    In my area ISO 9 to ISO 5 (town A vs town B) will reduce overall property insurance rates approx 55% (ISO 5 rate is 45% of Town B for same house).

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    It is divided by 3 or if records aren't kept correctly 6.

    IIRC (Don't have my copy of FSRS here, not sure if it's in that or the interpretation notes for that matter...) volunteers who sign in/out of the station are counted 1 for 1. If you need x manhours of coverage, and already have volunteers there for y manhours, y/x is credited at the 1 for 1 instead of 3 for 1 or 6 for 1.

    Let's realize a *lot* of what is in ISO is abitrary. And it's not ISO's fault either, since most of it is based on NFPA standards (although older editions of them).

    Why is 1.5 miles for Engines, 2.5 miles for Ladders considered "good?" Why 5 miles from the nearest station? 1000' from a hydrant? 250gpm for 2 hours to protect a ranch house? Pretty much numbers our fore-fathers pulled out of their butts and sounded good. The 1.5 mile engine/2.5 mile ladder spacing probably dates back to horse-drawn days.

    So many years ago, ISO wanted to encourage full-time staffing and also compensate for the vagerities (sp?) in response numbers & times for volunteers, and said let's credit them at 1/3rd. Not scientific, just something that seemed like a reasonable thing to throw against the wall and see if it sticks -- most of what we do for standards in the fire service is that way.

    Nothing neccessarily wrong with a lot of these things, but it's fair enough to question them -- IMHO, the strongest arguement in NFPA 1710 to their 4 minute response times is the EMS response with a defibrillator. Fires can vary a lot from district to district (don't give me this bull**** that fires are the same everywhere -- a single family house fire five miles away in a district with paved and plowed roads is a different event than a house fire one mile away on barely maintained, one lane dirt roads...and a SFD is different than a MFD, and MFDs really start to vary from one part of the country to another...) Heart attacks are pretty consistent!

    Matt
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    Originally posted by Dalmatian90
    So many years ago, ISO wanted to encourage full-time staffing and also compensate for the vagerities (sp?) in response numbers & times for volunteers, and said let's credit them at 1/3rd.
    Great post. FYI, I think you were looking for vagaries (plural for vagary). Just an FYI. Good post though.

    Eric

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    Originally posted by BC79er
    I forget the exact ratio, but supposedly a volunteer only counts as a fraction of a career firefighter. Even if a firefighter is a career FF somewhere else or has career-equivalent certs (IFSAC), if they are operating in a volunteer capacity with the department being graded, they don't count as 1.
    It has nothing to do with training or career/vollie status. It has to do with your guys being at the station. If you maintain a duty crew -- even if you are a 100% volunteer department -- those guys at the station count 1-for-1. Volunteers responding from elsewhere count 3-for-1. And if you don't keep proper records, they're only worth 6-for-1 credit.

    Originally posted by rickyr
    My thoughts exactly. I have always believed ISO ratings are just an ego thing and a paperwork shuffle. Rating Fire Departments on dollar loss verses dollar save is a much better way to evaluate the effectivness and efficiency of a Fire Department.
    Is dollar loss really a good measure of fire department effectivness? The electrical fire that begins in a home at 1830 while the family is eating dinner is discovered quickly, the FD is notified quickly & the fire is extinguished quickly. The result? Low dollar loss. Let the same fire begin at 0930 when the family is at work and shchool. The fire isn't noticed until it's blowing out the windows. The result is a large loss, but it's not the fault of the fire department.

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    The fire isn't noticed until it's blowing out the windows. The result is a large loss, but it's not the fault of the fire department.
    Or, in our case we can lose a half dozen or more trailers (excuse me, manufactured homes ) with contents and be nowhere close to the dollar loss our mutual aid departments would be hit with when one of their half million dollar lake homes burns. Sorry rickyr, but I'm with cozmosis. Dollar loss is no way to rate a fire department.

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