For Immediate Release
Fire Department Receives Provisional ISO Rating
The Springfield Fire Department will implement an action plan within the next 60 days in an effort to maintain its current ISO rating of 2, after receiving notice from the rating agency that the ISO will drop to 3 if improvements are not made.
The Insurance Services Office, which rates communities on their structure fire suppression capabilities, completed its every 10-year review in May 2009. ISO notified the Fire Department earlier this month that it is assigning a provisional rating of 3. The provisional rating won’t be published until May 10, 2010. Before that, the Fire Department has 60 days to submit an action plan identifying steps it will take to improve the deficiencies in a timely manner in order to maintain the ISO Class 2 rating.
In the meantime, there should not be any impact on residential or business insurance rates until the final ISO rating is published next May. Individual insurers may or may not factor ISO ratings into fire insurance premiums.
“The ISO wants to see that the department is committed to making the improvements necessary to maintain the ISO 2,” Interim Co-Chief David Hall said. “If they see an action plan developed and approved, the rating agency will take those steps into account before making its final determination.”
The new analysis gave the City 78.02 points out of a possible 100. The ISO 2 rating requires 80 or more points. Previously, the department had scored 80.53 points, for a drop of 2.51 points. The areas in which the Department lost credit were the number of engines, trucks, training and equipment. The following Action Plan steps are expected to increase the score to 80 or above to maintain the ISO 2 rating.
Staffing: With the passage of the Nov. 3 sales-tax referendum, the Department is expected to begin a new Fire Academy class when the City’s new fiscal year begins on July 1, 2010. That will significantly alleviate the staffing shortages due to the current hiring freeze. At the time of the review, the Department had 14 positions frozen; it is currently down 16 positions.
Training: The Department is researching options to improve its “burn building” for training in the short term, until construction of a new police-fire training center offers a permanent solution. The current “burn building” site is inadequate, but the department has not wanted to invest in improvements because the burn building is expected to be replaced. The Department will consider short-term improvements at the current site and/or seek agreements with adjacent departments for short-term use of other burn buildings.
Equipment: The Department intends to purchase about $5,000 of equipment out of its existing budget to meet ISO recommendations. Examples of the equipment include salvage covers, floodlights, and ladders.
The ISO’s analysis gave a perfect score – 10 of 10 possible points - for receiving and handling fire alarms, which is a credit to the Springfield-Greene County Emergency Communications Department. It also gave a very high rating – 37.87 of 40 possible points – for the water-supply system, which is largely City Utilities’ responsibility. On the other areas, which cover the Fire Department’s staffing, equipment, training and distribution of resources, the City received 35.06 of a possible 50 points.
In ISO’s 2008 nationwide ratings distribution, the Springfield Fire Department was one of six to hold a Class 2 rating out of 1,785 rated departments in Missouri. Two Missouri departments hold Class 1 ratings. Nationwide, 538 departments hold an ISO 2 among the 47,648 departments rated.
The ISO also gave a provisional split rating of 3/9 for service areas within five road miles of a fire station, but beyond 1,000 feet of a fire hydrant. When a split rating is given, the first number represents the ISO rating for all areas within five miles of a fire station and 1,000 feet of a fire hydrant. Those areas are not extensive. ISO gives a split rating of 3/10 when there were areas within the City that are more than five road miles from a fire station. The 3/10 split would have applied to two specific areas of the City – the Springfield-Branson National Airport and the Southwest Power Plant. The City Council recently approved automatic-aid agreements with Willard and Republic and that step may help eliminate the split rating for most properties within the city. (The Airport does operate its own fire station, which is specifically designated for aircraft-equipment fires, not structure fires.)
Certain areas will not be included in the immediate action plan. The ISO analysis indicates the City should have at least five more engine companies and at least four more fire stations for optimum coverage of the community. While initial plans have been made for a 13th fire station in northwest Springfield, there are currently no funding sources identified for construction or staffing. Increasing the number of engine companies from the current 11 to the recommended 16 also would require a significant funding commitment.
For more information, contact: Interim Co-Chief David Hall, 864-1530.