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  • Improving ISO manning Rural Vol FD

    Improving ISO station manning

    15% of your ISO rating is based on personnel available.
    http://www.isomitigation.com/ppc/2000/ppc2007.html

    1.) What creative methods are Vol FD using to get warm bodies manning the station (to either improve ISO or response times). Frequent/obvious programs include.

    - Dayrooms/rec/fitness rooms. How well have these worked out (hrs/yr)?
    - Bunkroom/sleepover programs. How well have these worked out (hrs/yr)where you don't have an oversupply of eager to join vols? (You want me to train ___hrs per year, be at ___% of calls, help with fundraisers, and now I'm also expected to sleep at the station 3 nights a month?)
    - Apartments for college student (if you have a nearby college). We have no nearby college.

    Other ideas?

    Anyone tried to use AmeriCorps vols man the station? Perhaps retirees as station residents in attached apartments (same concept as having college students "door"). Perhaps more of a stretch, but having misdemeanor jail inmates or those sentenced to community service sitting on their butts at the station. Any of these could at least turn the lights on, open the doors, start the trucks and same station manning credit as a paid FF.


    2.) Have you had an ISO inspection and what has been allowed for location of "housing"? This would likely be the same for fulltime or vol stations.
    - Dayroom/bunkroom/apartments not under the same roof as the station? As perhaps a building, house, or mobilehome adjacent to the station? What distance from the station was allowed? (20ft, 50ft, 100ft??).
    - Dayroom/bunkroom/apartments not under the same roof as the station but connected to the station?

  • #2
    I don't claim to be an ISO expert by any means, so let get that stated first. Secondly, this may help your staffing requirements a little bit.

    Our rural county was re-graded three years ago from a 9/10 to a 7/9. Not great, but certainly a step in the right direction, and a process that we learned from to allow us a better grading next time. We're working on a lot of things (larger tankers, LDH, municipal water system, etc) to improve our score, so we brought in a retired ISO employee last year to give us some suggestions.

    For the staffing, he stated that ISO will credit a VFD with 1:6 ratio for response. That is, for every six volunteers that respond, credit is given for one on-duty person. However, by simply writing "I certify that X number of personnel responded," and having the IC (or your company's commander on the mutual/automatic aid call) sign the roster for the call, the staffing credit improved to 1:3. Finally, personnel that were on-duty, signed a duty roster, and indicated on the incident report that they were on duty get a 1:1 credit. Pretty easy to follow.

    The question has also arisen for us about whether or not the personnel have to physically be in the station, or can the on-duty personnel respond from home or not. We've gotten the impression that they have to be in quarters.

    That being said, we're starting a duty crew program on January 1, 2007. The crews will staff the station (at minimum) from 1800-2200, then they'll have the option of home response depending on thier distance from the station. The crews will run from Sunday-Thursday nights.

    Also, one place that we lost a lot of points was for our training. Now, that's not to say we didn't train - there was an average of 3500 hours per year of training in the county. However, to get full credit, ISO wants to see how many hours per year were dedicated to officer training, recruit training, night training, day training, refresher training, and (can't forget) the 8 hours of radiological detection training that's required each year! Quite honestly, kind of a pain in the rear to meet thier training DOCUMENTATION requirements. However, we're attempting to do our best to comply.

    I don't know if I even began to answer some of your questions, but maybe some of our experiences will help....

    Career Fire Captain
    Volunteer Chief Officer


    Never taking for granted that I'm privileged enough to have the greatest job in the world!

    Comment


    • #3
      Obviously California is alot different from Iowa, particularly in regards to the number of paid vs volunteer departments but an idea I am surprised is not more common is the use of student firefighters.

      I knew a couple of guys when I was trying to get hired that would travel insane distances (some drove 5-6 hours) to the handful of departments with these programs. All had completed FF1 academies but needed the 1 year of volunteer time to actually get their FF1, for those in urban areas there was little opportunity to volunteer (I was a firefighter at the only Vol department in my entire county). Most of these departments had a single paid FF on duty supplemented with students. The departments got fairly well trained if inexperinced FF's for a small per diem payment ($25-50 per shift, basically just food / gas money) and actual experience, at the end of the year the fire chief would sign off their FF1 if the FF had met the training requirements and actually worked a couple shifts per month. To keep the more experienced guys around, after their FF1 was done some of these departments would let them start working on their FF2, commercial license, pump operator etc.


      Another idea is using EMS if you have paid EMS, let them use the station, and give them some basic FF training (this is a nozzle, that's a Halligan tool). You usually want an ambulance on scene for standby anyway and medicals are the bulk of most calls. If you are actually considering letting people stay in the station just to open the doors I would think this would be better, plus they would be around to help the FF's with their EMS skills.


      On a related note does anyone know how much ISO ratings really impact a community, how much could a home owner or buisness save on insurance if you lower the ISO rating, lets say 8-10 vs 4-7 or 1-3. 10%? 20%?

      I know many departments try to lower their rating but it doesn't seem like many communities really care, seems more like an FD thing just to try and show they are doing a good job.
      Last edited by NonSurfinCaFF; 08-12-2006, 08:31 PM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by BoxAlarm187

        For the staffing, he stated that ISO will credit a VFD with 1:6 ratio for response. That is, for every six volunteers that respond, credit is given for one on-duty person. However, by simply writing "I certify that X number of personnel responded," and having the IC (or your company's commander on the mutual/automatic aid call) sign the roster for the call, the staffing credit improved to 1:3.
        This is true. We got an ISO inspection two years ago. Our main points were not having a reserve pumper, not having a ladder truck, and personnel available to respond.

        The ratio is correct. They give credit for every 6 volunteers to every 1 full time person. This is for time of response and availability of personnel. We still upgraded our status from an ISO 5 to ISO 4 which isn't so bad.

        The biggest change we could make would be to have a "in station" crew which would reduce our response time and have a gauranteed amount of personnel to respond. If we did that we could be an ISO 3 department. Then you run into on call pay or full time personnel issues.
        Jason Knecht
        Firefighter/EMT
        Township Fire Dept., Inc.
        Eau Claire, WI

        IACOJ - Director of Cheese and Whine
        http://www.cheddarvision.tv/
        EAT CHEESE OR DIE!!

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by NonSurfinCaFF
          I am surprised is not more common is the use of student firefighters.
          The biggest reason is:
          Originally posted by NonSurfinCaFF
          Most of these departments had a single paid FF on duty supplemented with students.
          Kinda hard to maintain union jobs with this type of system. And while it may work, I'd rather have 3-4 veteran firefighters.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by NonSurfinCaFF
            On a related note does anyone know how much ISO ratings really impact a community, how much could a home owner or buisness save on insurance if you lower the ISO rating, lets say 8-10 vs 4-7 or 1-3. 10%? 20%?

            I know many departments try to lower their rating but it doesn't seem like many communities really care, seems more like an FD thing just to try and show they are doing a good job.
            We lowered our ISO earlier this year from a 9 to a 4. Our community homeowners have received anywhere from a 50% to 60% drop in insurence premiums. I hope that answered your question.

            www.hickorycreekfire.org

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by RFDACM
              The biggest reason is:

              Kinda hard to maintain union jobs with this type of system. And while it may work, I'd rather have 3-4 veteran firefighters.
              Well yes that would be fabulous, in fact I'd like 5 or 6 highly experienced firefighters per engine with a station on every corner but I was talking about departments that were mostly or completely volunteer.

              I don't know about you but I would take 1 career captain with 2 or 3 decently trained rookies in the station 24/7 over people responding from home if they are available, or 1 career ff responding alone. As far as I know most volunteer / combo fire departments are not union.


              Originally posted by RES81CUE
              We lowered our ISO earlier this year from a 9 to a 4. Our community homeowners have received anywhere from a 50% to 60% drop in insurence premiums. I hope that answered your question.

              www.hickorycreekfire.org

              Wow, with that kind of drop I'm surprised it is so hard for departments to get support if it results in a better ISO rating.
              Last edited by NonSurfinCaFF; 08-13-2006, 11:36 PM.

              Comment


              • #8
                Texas Department of Insurance has an estimate table for changes in PPC classes:

                http://www.tdi.state.tx.us/fire/fmppcfaq.html

                Also on staffing you get 1:2 for personnel that have vehicles oufitted with lights and sirens, have radios, and carry their bunker gear. And yes, the only difference between the 1:6 and the 1:3 is the sign-in sheet after the call.

                It is hard to for departments to get support from the local government/citizens because not many put stock in the thought that if they spend this money, that maybe they'll get a reduction in homeowners insurance. There is a large communications breakdown between FDs and the public, who know very little to nothing about the fire service, and only hear about their tax money being spent. They want less taxes and lowered homeowners. Add to it, that in some states the insurance companies are not required to have premium changes based on PPC. Some carriers chose to ignore PPC classes altogether. So the trick is to have the plan in place prior to approaching the public for funding, and making sure that you can do what ISO asks. It is an open book test, but it still takes a lot of work and a lot of people to get it done right.
                Brian P. Vickers
                www.vickersconsultingservices.com
                Emergency Services Consulting
                Westlake VFD - Houston, TX
                Proud Member IACOJ - Redneck Division

                Comment


                • #9
                  Thanks, thats a useful site, I have been aware of ISO for years but never really had anything that explained everything.


                  I did find this interesting though

                  "A perfect score in Texas is 106.5. It consists of 50 points for fire department capabilities, 40 points for water supply and distribution, 10 points for receiving and handling fire alarms and 6.5 points for a "Texas Addendum" that grades fire safety education, building code enforcement, fire prevention code enforcement and fire investigation capabilities."

                  I would think prevention would be a larger factor, I guess like most they prefer to deal with fires that happen over fires that never were.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Here we use the Louisiana Property Insurance rating system, which though based on ISO, has many differences and quirks. Our staffing number is based on the average number of people that respond to runs over a 2 year period. This number is also used to determine the number of people you can use for the bi-annual water hauling component of the rating process.

                    We are a combo department with one (1) paid 24/7 firefighter. There is a second paid 8am-5pm firefighter, which is a qualified volunteer member, on duty daily. We have a bunkroom in our central station which can sleep 4 additional firefighters, and on an average night there are 2-3 volunteer ride-outs.

                    We also have a trailer at one of our 4 satellitte stations, which houses one volunteer member. He "works" 40 hours for us each week, giving us credit for one additional paid firefighter. We currently have plans to add trailers to 2 additional satellite stations within the next 2-3 years. One may be large enough to house the family, while the other one may be designed to house 2-3 single members.
                    Train to fight the fires you fight.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      NonSurfer - the rest of ISO doesn't deal with fire prevention at all, other than preplanning. TX gives credit for those other things because it feels they are also directly related to preventing fire losses. We also get points for having CAFS on the first due assignment.

                      And 106.5 may be 100%, but the ISO scale remains the same. So here it's 90-106.5 points is a Class 1. Like LA though, TX insurance companies are not required to follow PPC ratings, but they usually do because word gets out and their customers jump to someone that does. I would, about a 10% change in premiums per PPC Class drop according to the above link.
                      Brian P. Vickers
                      www.vickersconsultingservices.com
                      Emergency Services Consulting
                      Westlake VFD - Houston, TX
                      Proud Member IACOJ - Redneck Division

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        From dealing with ISO for a few "evaluations"...simply having people sitting in your station does not equal staffing in their eyes. You need to have trained FF's for it to count. Retirees living there and inmates warming the benches will not count at all, unless they are trained FF's.

                        In NJ, what few insurance companies that use ISO ratings anymore do is break the ratings into 3 levels. 1-4 is a level, 5-7 is a level, 8+ is a level. Premiums are based on the level, so going from a 4 to 3 does nothing, going from a 4 to 1 does nothing. Going from 5 to 4 makes a difference, but mostly for commercial properties. But that is NJ.

                        Biggest key to "victory" with ISO is documentation. Plain and simple. They care more about records than any actual FF skills/abilities. Simple example, you can run your pump and pump 6 lines everyday, but if you don't have the documented pump testing, your pumps are no good.
                        "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?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          And if you can't bother to document your readiness have you bothered to train and are you ready? Same as the military. Claiming your great is not sufficient.


                          Finally got an answer from ISO regarding the major point of where a dayroom/bunkroom etc can be located to be to receive station manning credit. maximum credit can be given up to 200 feet from where the
                          Apparatus is housed.


                          So dropping a mobile home behind the station would be acceptable. etc

                          The also sent info from "Section 570" any personnel that "participate in fire fighting operations" including support personnel are counted in manning.

                          Training being a seperately evaluated.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Just like companies/departments that have shared their equipment when it's evaluation time, documentation can be made up at any point. Personally, I'd rather spend time with the evaluator and demonstrate the proficiency/efficiency of the department. Giving them loads of paperwork shows you can write. After all, it's on paper so we must have actually done the training. Then again, the last ISO evaluator we worked with had very little fire experience/knowledge so they would not be able to judge efficiency anyhow.

                            Believe me, the concept of what ISO is trying to do I believe in. I don't agree with many things/ways they are currently using. I still have a hard time accepting that you lose points (although minor) if you don't have your building's non-emergency phone number listed in the white pages. We are an unmanned station, so having the non-emergency phone number published allows people to call and never get an answer. Why that has anything to do with your "fire protection" is beyond me. Same with some of the "equivalent items" list. I still can't see how a thermal imaging camera is equivalent to a cutting torch? And like I said above, documenting training really doesn't show you are trained.

                            As I said, the "idea" of ISO is good, the practical application (in my opinion) is not matching.
                            "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?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by RFDACM
                              The biggest reason is:

                              Kinda hard to maintain union jobs with this type of system. And while it may work, I'd rather have 3-4 veteran firefighters.
                              Keep your union BS out of this thread, it has no place here. If you want to feed your union fire, do a search.
                              FTM-PTB

                              Comment

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