Thread: ISO fraud

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    Exclamation ISO fraud

    Interesting article about alleged fraud in obtaining an ISO rating (borrowing equipment). I'd venture a guess that this is actually a common practice.

    Comments?

    The department I used to work for borrowed truck loads of equipment and pencil-whipped their paperwork in the 80's to get to a 4. The ISO inspector had to be complicit because he passed off three Chem-Ox masks as SCBA's!

    Link:

    ISO fraud
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    I remember in one of these threads someone said that the "ISO tools" get passed around from department to department, whenever they need it for inspection. I wonder if that practice will continue?

    Eric

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    How do you stop it? Will ISO now require stamped identification on all equipment, not simply labels but imprints? That would put a dent in borrowing of items, but would the FS ever allow such a requirement?

    Cheating on ISO ratings.....the fire service continues to be it's own worst enemy. It's amazing anyone trusts us, if they do.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    It seems to me that the biggest part of these ratings are the water supply, rigs, and number of firefighters responding. Moving equipment like this around (nozzle, torch, etc.), while wrong isn't that big a deal since it is unlikely to affect the department's performance as long as they have the basics. Moving actual rigs around to get them counted twice or faking rosters is a different matter.

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    The "loose" equipment can make a difference in ratings. We had a neighboring dept miss improving a grade by less than one point. A couple of pieces of loose equipment would have made the difference.

    We do not borrow equipment for ISO. We do move equipment from truck "A" to truck "B" not to increase or deceive but to comply with the ISO list. For example we carry two tarps on the first due engine and twelve tarps on the rescue truck. We will move tarps from the rescue to the engine for ISO and then move them back to the rescue after ISO is done. We operate out of one station so there is no moving stuff from station to station.

    I believe that a similiar thing happened in the southeast a number of years ago. In addition to the fraud charges and publicity, the insurance companies also sued the departments for the loss of premiums caused by the lower ISO rating that was gained by the fraud.

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    I agree with GunnyD about the main points, the smalll stuff is just a part of the big picture , but ---- when you ask for an ISO rating , you agree to play by their rules , you cant change the rules to suit yourself. Gotta remember ISO is still oriented towards preventing the big loss. The "outdated " tools you are expected to carry arent meant for the day to day incidents. But let an old downtown get to ripping and a dept that runs automatic nozzles will do themselves a favor by dusting off those old heavy triplestack playpipes. Is it worth lugging them around for 30 years before you need them. Just ask the owner of the furniture store with a common wall next to the fire building. And I bet he wont be throwing rocks at you , when you unfold all those salvage covers that have been on the service truck collecting dust all these years because the ones on your engine were plenty.

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    The practice of barrowing the "useless crap" ISO calls necessary equipment is more commonplace than you think. I also know of several mutual aid organizations that keep an "ISO Stash" that is used by the departments when they are evaluated.
    I have always felt that what tools we use to accomplish the rating should really not be a concern of ISO ... obviusly the communications, training, pump capicity, tanker capicity etc should be ... but not if we have a Cooper Hose Jacket or not.
    Just my thoughts.

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    The part that I find amazing about this practice is that it hurts the very fire department that is commiting the fraud. They are just too stupid to realize it. If I have asked for the money to purchase required equipment and the request is denied, who's fault is it? The blame rests on those who determine the departments funding.

    Everyone always complains about why the police get funds and fire departments don't. This is one of the reasons. The police chief will present a case for why a piece of equipment is needed and how it will improve the effectiveness of the department. The fire department plays this shell game with ISO proving once again that we really don't need additional equipment or adequate funding.

    Some departments understand how to use ISO to improve the department and provide better protection to the citizens we protect. Those who seek to trick the ISO evaluator short change their departments and their communities.

    BTW, I have used a Cooper Hose Jacket on the fire ground on several occasions. It takes up valuable space on the rig, but you never know when you might need it.

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    Ok for the record, I dont believe an ISO rating gives the true picture of a fire depts effectiveness. But it is one aspect. A dept should first consentrate on what works for their particlar situation
    Then work on lowering their rating. They may find out that some of the requirments arent such a bad idea. In all honesty, we proably wouldnt test our plugs annualy if it wasnt for ISO. I know we wouldnt test hose as often.
    I guess I would like to hear what equiptment and why it is considered un necessary. Oh yeah the copper hose jacket - we use a $49.oo leather hose jacket --- cheap and two will mate up and fit 5" LDH. Also ISO will accept a hose clamp and an extra stick of hose.

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    Sure it may seem to be an innocent engagement, share some equipment around, help lower the rating. But then something happens and someone gets hurt, like a burst hose, and there's no hose jacket or hose clamp to be found. Water supply is lost, people get hurt. it's all over the news. The ISO reviewer just happens to hear about the circumstances and says: "What do they mean no hose clamp? Every engine had one when I was there!" And the fun begins.

    The question you need to ask yourself is: when (not if) you get caught, can you afford to pay the fines and settlements when you get sued for defrauding an insurance company? Everyone on here complains that they don't have enough money to buy stuff, and like HM604OH said, you got the lowered rating by borrowing equipment, so now what reason does anyone have to give you any more money? You can't tell them that you need to buy the stuff because you borrowed it to get the rating, then they'll be party to the fraud. Or to stay out of it they'll report you themselves.

    It's a stupid thing to do. Kinda like the department next door to us that got a 2 claiming 15 paid on call and 37 volunteers. They pay 5 guys per day to staff 1 engine and a brush truck, and they have no volunteers on record. Simple enough to prove: there's no workman's comp insurance for any of these people, and the payroll proves their staffing. But then again, they're probably on the list to be re-reviewed among a few others. Like a very large city near us that got a 1 claiming 1/3 of their engines have CAFS. Try 3. Stupid stuff like that amazes me. It's so easy to disprove all of these claims, yet people put their careers and financial well-being on the line. For what? Bragging rights? Most of these people would get only 1 rating higher if they told the truth. Is it really worth losing everything over it, especially the respect?

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    I wonder how many departments all over the states have cheated on there ISO audit?
    It’s all about money, if the insurance company’s think that your fire department is well equipped and capable of putting out a fire (by there standards) with minimal damage and loss of property or life then they will lower the premiums, they don’t need a Hundred Million Dollars to compensate an area that only see One Million Dollar Loss so they give the costumer a break, BUT what happens when we cheat, who is the real victims? The home owner that thought the Fire Dept. was better equipped and lost every thing they own or the insurance co. that was lied to or all the other policy holders that have to pay more and more each year on there home owners insurance because the fire departments thought they were helping there districts home owners, but at the cost of others.

    I haven’t even touched on the subject of ethics, honor, pride, trust, just a few things that should be in every fiber of your Department.

    Can you lie and cheat your way through a house fire?

    I was told by another firefighter that his department was testing there hose and pumps getting ready for there ISO audit and to show three year worth (as required by ISO) they were filling in the last two years, well he didn’t agree with this practice so he questioned the Chief and was told “If the hose test good this year don’t you think it would have tested the same last year”……….

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    Of course...

    If you go under the assumption that cheating is widespread, then statistically it's already been adjusted for in the insurance rates.

    They see Class 2 as having X loss for Y insured. They see Class 1 having a lower ratio, and Class 3 as having a higher ratio of losses. They then set their rates appropriately to get 15% profit or so every year out of their premiums -- insurance companies as a whole don't benefit from a reduction in fires, less fires = lower premiums = less cash profits from the 15% or so they plan as "profit" on the premium. They just want to protect themselves from the occassional high-loss fire while everything else burns at a nice, steady, predictable pace.

    If 10% of the departments with a Class 2 nationwide "cheated" to get that, in theory, the fire loss for the whole Class 2 group goes up a little bit, and the insurance industry sets their rates based on that experience of that class.

    So if you really think about it, if this isn't taken as an isolated incident, it's not the insurance companies who have a loss (and thus a reason to sue), but it's all the policy holders in other Class 2 districts whose premiums were increased due to the additional risk brought into their insurance class by the departments cheating to get it.
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    Maybe I'm looking at this too simply. I don't give a rats @$$ about the insurance companies and whether they were cheated or not, I'm not caring about FD "bragging" rights.

    I see this very simply as Firefighters have lied/cheated. Period. End of story. And it's a sad story.
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    I give a rat @ss, I'm a home owner that pays a lot of money each year for insurance! the same insurance that uses the ISO rating system to determine how mush I have to cough up.

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    Default Tempted but didn't do it

    The system makes it very easy to cheat on your audit. We chose not to cheat and it cost us 1 point which left us a 3 instead of a 2, but I am now working to get that point through improvements.

    NOW, I didn't offer anything they didn't ask for and if they counted something we didn't have...that's not on us. We didn't cheat on a single record which would have been easy. That pump cutout that has beened passed around to most departments in 3 counties (that has the initials of each department hidden on it), is just plain stupid.

    The same insurance group that allows $100,000 in a single claim for a $100 electrical fire, $900,000 for a business who refused to get a sprinkler system, (insert name)Pawn Shop fires who claim we stole gold and money on the claim (which they got). They are raping our homeowners on rates. That's OUR fault??

    So ask me if I am tempted to add mutual aid company equipment to my pumpers since they will be there anyways. Yes I was tempted, no I didn't cheat, did it cost our homeowners...Yes.

    At least I didn't get a class 1 for giving 1 hour training credit every day for everyone for saying "engine 33 clear." 9 hours training for 3 hour drill because it lists in multiple categories, please...and those CAFS for non urban interface departments....don't get me started there either.

    Honest and paying the price,

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    Default Re: Tempted but didn't do it

    Originally posted by Ashift30


    Honest and paying the price,

    Jeff
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    I get the feeling that the leadership for this fire department who has been charged with ISO fraud were also able to obtain copies of the final tests while still in high school.
    There seems to be an element out there who believes that we are such a miserable lot, who have been long neglected by our government grant programs, who have been hit with an inability to attract and keep quality people and who have had to make do, improvise and overcome money, manpower and PR shortfalls to operate a fire department. They have gotten to the point in their minds where they believe that it is acceptable to ignore the standards that they couldn't possibly comply with, bend the rules to suit their particular situation and break the law all in the name of providing local fire protection. They have reached a point in their minds where they can be comfortable in knowing that, although they break the law, "it is for a good cause".
    And that is hogwash. It is just another example where someone wasn't willing to commit a stronger effort to the cause, because it's easier to cheat.
    ISO will eventually have to recognize that there is shared equipment, such as trench rescue trailers, hazmat trailers and equipment that is shared by several departments by agreement. ISO has long allowed for the use of mutual aid departments in building an ISO rating. But to play the shell game with equipment is not only wrong, but dangerous.
    The fire department loses face and public trust, but that is small consolation to the communities who are already paying what they believe are taxes that are too high anyway.
    Just another example where we don't need any help when it comes to shooting ourselves in the foot.
    Oh yeah; and in this case; fire the chief. He should have been the one person who should have known better.
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    Well said CR. Although you missed a part of the rant. The local council that had such a problem with the Chief's sense of right and wrong, put the guy that actually moved all of the equipment, the Assistant Chief, in charge! And the AC still thinks that nothing was done wrong! So why did they bother putting the Chief on leave if they left someone with the same moral faults in charge?

    As far I've found in my research for doing our our audit before calling ISO in for a review, I haven't found anything on tech rescue or hazmat. I think it mainly deals with the potential fires in the structures. But maybe I missed something.

    And it looks like we won't be calling ISO back for a couple of years. No hose testing records. So we're going to have to test for at least two years in a row to not miss all of the points in that category. Oh well, sometimes playing by the rules takes longer. But a wise man once said: he who does not lie, does not have to remember who he told what.

    Those who commit fraud will be caught. Remember the grant fraud? The footsteps will get louder everyday....

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    We had our ISO about five years ago. We didn't borrow equipment or claim things we couldn't prove. We went from a 7 to a 6 in some areas and from a 7 to a 9 in others. The change from 7 to 9 was because we had flow test records on the hydrants that weren't available in 1982. The hydrants in some subdivisions on private systems cannot even be used to fill a brush truck. The residents weren't happy but we are seeing some improvments in the systems since we explained why their rates went up.

    We asked why ISO (at that time) didn't credit Class A foam capability. The rep stated any change on the ratings criteria must be approved by the insurance comissioners of all 50 states. He said it normally takes several years to enact changes.

    Borrowing equipmet or other means of deceiving the ISO is wrong. I would much rather explain a rating obtained honestly to the public than try to explain fraud.

    I recall a similiar case from the southeast a number of years ago. Not only were fraud charges pursued, but the depts involved were also sued by the insurance companies for the loss of premimums during the period that the "false" ratings were in effect.

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    The rep stated any change on the ratings criteria must be approved by the insurance comissioners of all 50 states. He said it normally takes several years to enact changes.

    Nope -- it only has to be approved by the insurance commissioner in your state.

    There's about 4 slightly different schedules in use in the U.S. -- Texas gives credit for CAFS; a couple states use older editions than most of the rest. Don't have my ISO folder with me, but it can vary by state, it's not a universally national thing.

    "Several years" is an understatement. The basic schedule is mainly based on early 1970s editions of NFPA standards.
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    my question is to bc79er how do you know that the ac thinks nothing is wrong and shouldn't all the full time staff that was present be punished also?

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    Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Meinzer admits picking up equipment from other departments and using it during Brooklyn Park's ISO inspection.
    Doesn't sound like he was against it if he was picking equipment up. If you're the AC and you can't stand up to the Chief if you think something is morally or ethically wrong, then you must agree with it. It's different for firefighters to be told something by the Chief because there's a big organizational gap between the two positions, and it's really easy to fire a firefighter for something made up and make it stick, and even harder for the FF to get the job back. If a higher ranking officer stands up and the Chief tries to fire him for it, it won't work well, or quietly since the AC's know people in high places too that can make some noise. Same reason that unions were formed, to keep the higher ups from pulling some BS like they did with the FF that blew the whistle on it. It's mostly the public perception: if a low level worker makes a stink, he/she is just disgruntled and their complaints dismissed. If a management level person makes a stink, then something is wrong.

    Remember Enron? Low level employees had made allegations dozens of times, but no one listened until a VP dropped the dime.

    In this day and age with the speed of the media to air dirty laundry, if you're afraid to blow a whistle for fear of being fired, get some backbone and take the bastards down. Too many people are afraid to stand up for what they believe in. Others have died for it to get us to the point where we can sit back and let corruption go and make ourselves feel better by saying I can't afford to lose my job. You couldn't afford to lose yours? Ask Kevin Tillman about his job. Making $3 million a year playing football and he felt the need to go serve his country to do the right thing. THE RIGHT THING. It cost him more than his job. Too many in this country are not afraid to fight for what they believe in as long as it doesn't inconvenience them. To keep from ranting I won't go into the people that think that the US joining WWII was a mistake....

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    Thumbs up

    Originally posted by k2cfd30


    Can you lie and cheat your way through a house fire?


    What a great statement. I'm gonna start a thread about it.
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    From the front page.......




    quote:
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Brooklyn Park, Minnesota Fire Chief Charged With Misconduct



    Star Tribune via Associated Press

    BROOKLYN PARK, Minn. (AP) -- The fire chief here was charged with misconduct by a public official for allegedly misrepresenting how much fire equipment his department had during a March 2002 inspection.

    Chief Steve K. Schmidt, 52, who was charged Monday, has been on paid leave since May 5. The city will review the case to see whether Schmidt violated city policies. The city could consider discipline ranging from a verbal reprimand to suspension or termination, spokeswoman Mary Cosgrove said.

    A criminal complaint alleges that before an inspection survey, Schmidt borrowed equipment from other fire departments and equipped a fire truck that had been in storage, which then gave the appearance that Brooklyn Park fire stations had more equipment than they normally did.

    The survey was done by an inspector from Insurance Services Office Inc., which provides city fire ratings that insurance companies consider in setting premiums for home and business fire insurance.

    The charge is a gross misdemeanor.


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

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    heh heh heh heh heh .............its like magic aint it ?
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