ISO and the "oh my god, they're coming WHEN??" that comes with it

If you're in a volunteer department and haven't had an ISO inspection in a while... start working on it NOW... because when you get that call, all your members will scatter like cockroaches when the light turns on...

The week after I got laid off from my county fire wildland position for the season, my volunteer department got the call that we were having an inspection 3 days before christmas... how nice. just so happens, i had nothing to do....

... i have been at the station 10 hours a day for the last week and a half getting things together... and we're an organized department thanks to our chief of 30 years and former chief who keeps up with all the reporting for our department. I can't imagine what would have happened had we not been...

So if you're not keeping records, if you're not writing the correct terms on your training sheets, if you're not using checkout sheets on your weekly apparatus inspections... get moving. Download the book (the link is on the firehouse forums... i'll add it when i find it), read it, go thru your trucks, go thru your paper and start getting it in order. You'll be a happy camper later on, i promise...

It's been a pain in the ass, but i'm glad i'm involved... the whole process has given me a lot of insight into the inner workings of the department and gives me more reasoning behind why we need such records... not to mention inspiring me to get my shit together.

So on 22 december '08, knock on wood... or whatever hard surface is handy and wish us luck...
we're gonna kick ass...

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Comment by Avery Dale on December 21, 2008 at 10:29am
I hate dealing with ISO. The last time we where tested we did fairly well on our part. However, our county water system goes cheap on pipes so the water flow between hydrants sucked and one of our mutual aid departments had some quirks, making our score lower. I don't understand why we are penalized for something we can't control. We have begged for help from the county water system but no $$ means no help and we can't control how other departments are organized. Its bad enough knowing your score is low for something that's not your fault, but dealing with a ticked off community over increased insurance rates is worse. If you don't deal with ISO be very, very glad.
Comment by Gordon "Gopher" Runer on December 21, 2008 at 1:17am
It seems as if EVERYTHING relies on it!
Comment by lutan1 on December 20, 2008 at 5:27pm
and the examiner that tested our hydrant flow didn't even know how to figure the pressure and residual. She used the wrong coefficients and as a result we were given a poor score.
What a load of crap! Especially when it appears that so much relies on the rating....
Comment by Oldman on December 20, 2008 at 4:35pm

Be glad you don't. ISO is a joke. ISO grades small rural departments with the criteria of how the big cities respond and operate. Couple that with the fact that depending on who is doing the survey, depends on whether a department gets credit in a particular category. We were surveyed 7 years ago, and the examiner that tested our hydrant flow didn't even know how to figure the pressure and residual. She used the wrong coefficients and as a result we were given a poor score. This was brought to light last year when we were to be surveyed again. The consultant couldn't believe that no one else had caught it. ISO also tells you that using automatic aid gives you extra points on the initial alarm response. However, the examiner this time would not allow this to be used even though we have written agreements. Our communications center was given a lower score even though not 6 months prior, had received full credit for the neighboring department for which they dispatch. It's not consistent.

Dealing with ISO is an eye opener. and one I wouldn't want to repeat any time soon.
Comment by lutan1 on December 20, 2008 at 3:12pm
Thanks krys- we have nothing like it here in Australia...
Comment by krys on December 20, 2008 at 7:32am
it's probably the single most important thing your department will go thru. iso will inspect your department's ability to handle structure fires in your district. The results are a rating system that affects your departments funding as well as your community's insurance rates.

they look at everything... structure fire reports, fire trainings and how often you train with mutual aid, how often you train at night, and what the trainings consist of, the attendance at your trainings and fires (including mutual aid), your apparatus and all the equipment on it as well as mutual aid's apparatus reports, scba tests, apparatus pump tests, ladder tests, hydrant tests, if you have a cascade, they want the air quality reports, the percentage of calls that are structure fires, preplans for all commercial structures. they also look at your dispatch and their ability to function, the entire water supply, fire flows.... the list goes on. all of the records need to be organized and viewable for the latest 3 years.

during the inspection they ask questions regarding the response, who shows up, who's in command, what apparatus and equipment are utilized and how.

they schedule these things every 10-15 years normally, however, if you're in an area that is growing and more commercial structures go up, they will come back sooner.

download this:

it'll give you a good heads up on what's needed.
Comment by lutan1 on December 20, 2008 at 6:55am
I'veheard of the ISO stuff but no nothing about it.

What's it about? What's the significance for the FD or the community?
Comment by Gordon "Gopher" Runer on December 20, 2008 at 3:37am
Good luck! You will do just fine. Let us know how it goes. Might see you around up there over Christmas. Once again good luck.


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