1. #1
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    Default Does ISO matter?

    Our departmet is full time ISO rating of 3, also accredited by Commision on Fire Accredation. All surrounding twp's are paid-on call ISO ratings from 5-8.
    Our town is looking to make cuts and one is the FD. One member of the town council said his insurance would only be $40 more going from a 3 to a 5 district.
    Does ISO really matter to insurance compaines anymore and is it worth it to have a LOW ISO #? Anyone have any info to show how much more it cost to live in the higher ISO areas?

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    Get with local insurance companies and find out what insurance prices would be on a few different values of homes. Then, get with some local business and find out what will happen to their insurance with a drop to a 5.

    While your council member may only see an increase of $40/year, businesses are going to see a helluva lot more! You can also get an estimate and show the average annual costs to the city as a whole. Bigger numbers make bigger impacts.

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    Also be prepared to learn that the increase in insurance premiums may not actually occur. There is another thread on here where we have been talking about that. Couple of guys have posted stories for their areas where they received a higher ISO rating and insurance premiums did not change at all.

    As Catch22 said, try to get some factual quotes from insurance companies.

    But I'd be looking for better arguements/reasoning to fight for keeping the staffing than ISO. Just because budgets are being cut (and possibly a few members) does not mean your ISO will automatically drop. There are many full volunteer FD's that have ISO ratings of 4,3,2 and a couple of 1's.
    "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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    Thanks,

    They have taked about going to a split department with paid-on call FF and some full time members. I dont think it will happen though.

    Maybe I should get some numbers from insurance guys for commercial buildings on Class 3 vs Class 5+ areas.

    If your premimums dont go up with higher ISO what incentive is there to have a lower ISO?
    Do most insurance companies ignore ISO now?

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    There are some that put less emphasis on ISO, but none of them from my understanding ignore it. Even State Farm, who supposedly quit using ISO many years ago, still buys the information and utilizes it as part of their rating process.

    We just dropped our ISO from an 8 to a 5. We're already getting numerous calls from people excited with their insurance decreases. The average we're seeing is between $80-100. As an example of the big numbers I was talking about, with about 500 residences that's going to save "the community" $40-50,000/year. My uncle owns a parts store; the last I heard from him was his agent was expecting a decrease of over $1,000 (commercial property). This is why I say to make sure and get some commercial/industrial numbers.

    But, like Bones said, don't forget the other aspects. There's a lot of reasons to keep your staffing up, ISO is just a minor one.

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    Talk with the insurance folks and have them run the numbers for you.

    Based on experience from a study we did prior to our last ISO visit, we found that rates on residential structures were minimally affected for a rating better than 6 until about 4; in a high percentage of cases not at all. Better than 4 had no effect on the residential rates. Commercial insurance rates did however continue to see a difference across the entire rating scale.

    We used the data to study whether the improvements ($) needed to get to a better rating would be worth it or not. Having pretty well maxed out on points for physical assets - no reserve aerial, but a support unit with everything but the aerial device - the place to gain would have been additional stations and on-duty staffing. Would have required substantial additional property tax levies to accomplish. The biggest part of the tax burden would have been on our residential customers, but they would have had the least to gain. We decided to max out all the credit points we could with what we had.

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    ISO should not be the sole reason for a good argument but it sure as hell helps.

    Like it was said... research, research, research.

    Also, if they are going to cut funding, that means manpower. Do some number crunching and see if with the proposed cuts if your going to lose number of appartus you have. Then, if you are, run response times if say your out on a current call. Throw in mutal aid response times and if the times are a lot greater than what you have now, with the possible reduction in amount of personnel availiable also meaning a reduction in effectiveness and the rise of cost in ISO ratings, it should be enough to raise and ear or two.

    Granted, not every town out there will have a catastrophe that will empty the whole county, but every town has that potential

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ledebuhr1 View Post
    One member of the town council said his insurance would only be $40 more going from a 3 to a 5 district.
    Aside from the issue of commercial structures, you also should check with your local assessor to see how many residential buildings are on the tax rolls. If, for example there are 2,500 buildings on the rolls and your Councilman is "Joe Average" then the cut really means $100,000. in increased premium cost every year, forever. It's amazing how many folks don't remember to multiply the $40.
    Remember, it IS as bad as you think and they ARE out to get you!

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    $40? I'm surprised it's that much.

    Let's all try repeating this together:

    "ISO rating are not one of the (many) valid arguments that can be made to support a full-time fire department."

    They aren't. They just aren't.

    1. ISO ratings apply only to the fire portion of your homeowners policy;
    2. ISO rating are not necessarily impacted directly by the presence (or not) of paid staffing;
    3. ISO ratings are set every ten years. There may be NO impact of ANY kind for quite a while.
    4. In most states, ISO ratings are "banded" In my state, the bands a 1-3, 4-6,7-9, Not Covered. So there is a difference between a 3 and a 5. But not between a 4 and a 6 (or a 3 and a 1, to look at it from a more positive angle).


    There are good arguments you can make. Response time, prevention, basic fairness, etc. Do not base your argument for keeping your staffing on ISO ratings and an attendent rise in insurance rates. It is a horse-s$hyte argument, and if the taxpayers realize you are trying a horse-$hyte argument on them, they will never believe you again.

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    Quote Originally Posted by randsc View Post
    $40? I'm surprised it's that much.

    Let's all try repeating this together:

    "ISO rating are not one of the (many) valid arguments that can be made to support a full-time fire department."
    I strongly disagree with this statement.

    ISO rating and its effect on insurance reason is one of many valid arguments that can be made to support FD operations - paid, volunteer, or combination. Unless you have good statisticians and better data it's probably the only one you can put actual dollars to.

    Yes, ISO ratings are verified about every ten years - unless you have a major change in your department (read: paid to volunteer in this example, but an aerlier audit could be triggered by annexation, water supply improvements, etc.) Your changed rates, for better or worse, should happen within a year of the audit, provided no items are contested.

    Residential rates generally take a jump between 4 and 6, and I believe 7 and 8. Nine and 10 are biggies as well. Commercial rates in our area are affected about 5% per class rating from 9 down to 1. Do your homework and find out what applies in your area.

    Our state property assessors provided a copy of housing data for every structure in my city. With the cooperation of several insurance agents I was able to get a good guess of the insurance premium savings from ISO Class 10 down to 1. The dollars add up in a hurry.

    I agree that risk assessment is a better way to do business, but the people making the decisions really only understand dollars and cents. Know where you stand with ISO ramifications and you can help bolster your "babies will die" argument with hard numbers.
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    Residential rates generally take a jump between 4 and 6, and I believe 7 and 8. Nine and 10 are biggies as well. Commercial rates in our area are affected about 5% per class rating from 9 down to 1. Do your homework and find out what applies in your area.
    Exactly. In the state of NJ, the 10 ratings are grouped into 3 levels. Changing the rating, but staying in the same level, has 0 effect.
    "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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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42 View Post
    Exactly. In the state of NJ, the 10 ratings are grouped into 3 levels. Changing the rating, but staying in the same level, has 0 effect.
    I understand what you are saying Bones. But in Kansas it is set by each level. A area with in 2 miles of my station was in our coverage area until we separated and formed our own district. At that time those in that area went from a 7 to a 9. Many residents became very upset with the raise in their insurance increases. So we have now signed an automatic aid with the neighboring department and an ISO review will be done soon and lower them back down to the 7 they had before. This is per ISO personeel.

    T.J.

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    Remthedays, a 9 to a 7 just by adding automatic aid? I just don't see that many points for that option.

    Water system - no changes due to auto aid.
    Handling/receiving calls - no changes due to auto aid.
    Equipment - no changes.
    Response - yes, a change, but not that much.

    That's a fairly large jump for 1 item changing.

    But hey, I can be wrong again.
    "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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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42 View Post
    Remthedays, a 9 to a 7 just by adding automatic aid? I just don't see that many points for that option.

    Water system - no changes due to auto aid.
    Handling/receiving calls - no changes due to auto aid.
    Equipment - no changes.
    Response - yes, a change, but not that much.

    That's a fairly large jump for 1 item changing.

    But hey, I can be wrong again.
    When the changed occured it made thier responding department almost 9 miles away. When they (Residents) were initially in our first due area they had all of what you mentioned. Then we were taken out of the picture. By the automatic aid, as ISO explained to us, they are now back in as our 1st due area. We just due not recieve the tax money from them. But we did it for the residents. And it had to be an automatic, not just mutual aid. I hope this cleared this up. By the way I have used some of your S.O.P./S.O.G.'s to help re-write some of ours. Thanks...

    T.J.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42 View Post
    Remthedays, a 9 to a 7 just by adding automatic aid? I just don't see that many points for that option.

    Water system - no changes due to auto aid.
    Handling/receiving calls - no changes due to auto aid.
    Equipment - no changes.
    Response - yes, a change, but not that much.

    That's a fairly large jump for 1 item changing.

    But hey, I can be wrong again.
    Actually, if it's rural area, the AA tankers can count toward the water supply. At the same time, the AA equipment can count if the other department doesn't have that piece (i.e. we don't have a ladder company, so we can use the neighbor's) or enough of a particular piece of apparatus.
    Last edited by Catch22; 09-26-2007 at 05:56 PM.

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    Auto aid counts for apparatus (pump capacity), water supply (tankers), and manpower on the first alarm. Considering it takes 3 volunteer firefighters to equal 1 career firefighter according to the FSRS, adding the response of an AA company or two could make a big difference. Adding an aerial on the first alarm if you don't already have one can have a big impact as well.
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    Actually, I believe it's 6 vol FF's = 1 paid, in ISO's mind.
    "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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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42 View Post
    Actually, I believe it's 6 vol FF's = 1 paid, in ISO's mind.
    6 responding from home; three if you staff the station with duty crews.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42 View Post
    Actually, I believe it's 6 vol FF's = 1 paid, in ISO's mind.
    Quote Originally Posted by randsc View Post
    6 responding from home; three if you staff the station with duty crews.
    ISO doesn't care about whether you are paid or not. If you are in the station and on duty to respond whether it be career or volunteer or whatever... then you count as one firefighter for their purposes.

    As I understand it, if you have folks responding from somewhere else besides the station, they count three to one if you keep sign-in sheets or some other sort of record to verify their response. That number jumps to six to one if you don't.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cozmosis View Post
    ISO doesn't care about whether you are paid or not. If you are in the station and on duty to respond whether it be career or volunteer or whatever... then you count as one firefighter for their purposes.

    As I understand it, if you have folks responding from somewhere else besides the station, they count three to one if you keep sign-in sheets or some other sort of record to verify their response. That number jumps to six to one if you don't.
    If I remember right, you can get 2/1 if you have personnel (documented) available with their gear and radio in a vehicle with light and siren.

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