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  • ISO Ratings question

    How would a department go about figuring an approximate ISO rating for its department? We are a combination department and the higher ups have expressed interest in having the full time staff eliminated to save money. I want to figure out what our ISO rating would fall to without the on duty staffing and then how much impact this would have on our tax payers, because I do not wish to be unemployed. This is not a career/volunteer issue and I don't want it to be that. All I am asking for is input on the ISO rating system. Thanks.

  • #2
    There will probably be some...

    ...who will try to tell you that there is an automatic negative ISO impact to reducing or eliminating paid staffing. The fact is that no such automatic impact exists. There are volunteer departments that are at ISO "1". For example:
    http://www.churchillcounty.org/fire/

    More useful in your case will be to complete an analysis that is tailored to your own department. Basically, what you will need to do is get the ISO criteria and run a model department that looks like yours would without the paid staff.

    Estimate conservatively. Since you are a combo department, you rely on volunteers or POC now, so this really isn't a paid/vollie debate, as you say. For example, it may be tempting to claim that response times will increase greatly if the paid staff are dropped, but that isn't necessarily true. In my department, we have paid staff as driver/operators. So the paid guy (only one per day shift, none at night) cannot respond without waiting for a POC crew. If we could reliably find POC drivers, our response time wouldn't drop at all.

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    • #3
      I forgot to say, in our case, adding paid staff didn't lower our ISO number at all. But it sure had an impact in terms of reducing stress on the existing volunteers, with what we imagine are positive impacts on retention (to soon for much data). We are also much better at preventative maintenance of the firehouse than we were.

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      • #4
        Last I knew, ISO has a worksheet that will give you an idea of what your rating will be.
        Train to fight the fires you fight.

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        • #5
          You can also request a copy of the rating schedule ISO uses. Just takes a request on department letterhead. It has all the calculations in it. You can also download Larry Stephen's book at www.isoslayer.com (I think that's still a good link, haven't checked in it a while). If I recall, he's got a lot of the numerical figures in there.

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          • #6
            http://www.isomitigation.com/
            Buckle Up, Slow Down, Arrive Alive
            "Everybody Goes Home"

            IACOJ 2003

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            • #7
              Well, I believe the ISO rating system needs to revamp their thinking, it really dosnt mean a heck of a lot to them if you have staff full time, they go by how many firefighters respond to the fire, and they really dont care about how long it takes to get their. I believe the ISO should wake up and give the departments that are responding out the door under the NFPA 6 minute requirement a credit on the rating, but they dont. I think the ISO a an antiquated grading system and they should restructure before the insurance companies hire some other agency to rate fire departments.

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              • #8
                Thanks for sharing. We have to deal with what is.

                ISO counts station manned hours (in station or on shift and within 200ft).
                Vol are 6 to 1 compared to staffed hours. 3 to 1 if document manning and training. Meaning if you have a guy manning the station (paid or vol) he counts as 1 for the required manning, otherwise you need 3 (or 6) of staff and responding as vol from home/job etc.

                see: www.isomitigation.com and
                www.isoslayer.com and will answer many of your questions.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by JerryJ101
                  it really dosnt mean a heck of a lot to them if you have staff full time, they go by how many firefighters respond to the fire, and they really dont care about how long it takes to get their.
                  Not quite true as NEIOWA pointed out, ISO will give more credit for staffed stations vs. volunteer at the 6:1 ratio. It takes six times as many vol. personnel on the roster as fulltime to get full credit. Everything ISO does is about the full first alarm assignment so if you require 2 engines and 1 ladder with 4 on each you'd need 12 fulltime personnel on duty vs. 36 if you had vol. personnel staffing the station and documented their training and hours in-house vs. 72 personnel on the roster of a fully volunteer non-staffed house. At our last rating (combo dept.) they reviewed three years worth of first alarm assignments and the total staffing and used the average as the number of responding personnel. Then I think they figured the number of those persons not fulltime and divided them by 6 and came up with our ISO staffing number. If it hadn't been for the divisor we'd have been close to perfect for staffing.

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                  • #10
                    I may suggest that your emphasis should be directed towards lifesafety of the citizens. ISO is based on property conservation not lifesafety. This a reason ISO has limitations when arguing career response vs other systems. Pointing out flashover times in relation to early intradiction by your carrer staff may assist your case this points out property and life safety impacts on your community.

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                    • #11
                      Thats why I love this place so much. Wonderful help form all over the country. Thanks for all your suggestions and input.

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