In Memoriam: Dr. Harry E. Hickey

HickeyCommunity Fire Protection News would like to pay our respects to a good friend of ISO and the mitigation community. Dr. Harry E. Hickey passed away on January 29, 2017. Dr. Hickey was an important member of the fire service community and a tireless advocate for effective fire protection for insurers and property owners alike. He served in multiple key roles in the fire service, and his career spanned 52 years.

Dr. Hickey was an active member of the fire service for 20 years and a volunteer for 32 more. In 1962, he joined the University of Maryland’s Department of Fire Protection Engineering (FPE) as the second full-time faculty member, retiring in 1985 after 25 years. For several decades, he was deputy fire coordinator for the Wyoming County, New York, Bureau of Fire. Before and during his university position, he served with the College Park and Hillandale Volunteer Fire Departments in Maryland, and he assisted on projects at the National Fire Academy/United States Fire Administration in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

Dr. Hickey spent most of his adult life analyzing the key components of good fire protection, and he worked closely with ISO’s Public Protection Classification (PPC®) program to assist the insurance industry in assessing risks and establishing accurate rates. He provided guidance and insight to develop the Fire Suppression Rating Schedule (FSRS), which is the guide ISO uses to evaluate municipalities to assign PPC grades. His perspective was especially valuable given his deep understanding of how local municipalities can reap the economic benefits of lower losses and the potential reduction in the cost of property insurance.

Dr. Hickey authored many books and articles, including the textbooks Hydraulics for Fire Protection, Public Fire Safety Organization: A Systems Approach, Fire Suppression Rating Schedule Handbook, and others. It was his pioneering concepts that led to the creation of the National Fire Heritage Center (NFHC), a national fire-related archival initiative, to preserve the written history of fire protection and the fire service in America. NFHC President Ronny J. Coleman of California bestowed the official title of NFHC Principal Founding Member on Dr. Hickey in 2008.

Hickey WifeIn his honor, the Dr. Harry E. Hickey Scholarship Endowment was established at the University of Maryland in July 2009 by alumni of the four-year academic program, his friends, and former students. Income from the endowment provides annual FPE scholarships for the university’s A. James Clark School of Engineering. The Fire Suppression Research Laboratory, an important component of the FPE curriculum, is named in Dr. Hickey’s honor. Upon retiring, he served as director of fire protection and fire chief at the Johns Hopkins University/Applied Physics Laboratory.

A staunch ally of ISO, Dr. Hickey once spoke about us in conjunction with the importance of fire protection capabilities nationally: “I know from my personal and academic research experience that good fire protection has a tremendous effect on the vitality and sense of well-being in a community. When a fire happens, those who need help can easily see the difference between an effective, well-organized, and smartly deployed firefighting resource and an inadequate or nonexistent one. I’ve spent most of my adult life analyzing the key components of good fire protection, and I can tell you this: I can’t imagine living in a world without ISO’s Public Protection Classification program.”

Dr. Hickey went on to say that the PPC program works because the financial incentives to improve classifications are unique and effective and because insurers and residents alike benefit from the informed choices of community leaders. And of course, saving lives and property continues to be the prime mission of local emergency responders.

Dr. Hickey’s friendship and expertise will be missed. Our world is a better and safer place because of his life-long devotion to improving fire protection. Our condolences go to his wife, Gloria, and their family, which included 5 children, 11 grandchildren, and 5 great grandchildren.

ISO Fire Suppression Rating Schedule

Our Fire Suppression Rating Schedule (FSRS) is free to chiefs and other fire officials. It's a manual containing the criteria Verisk uses in reviewing the fire prevention and fire suppression capabilities of individual communities or fire protection areas. To recieve a copy of the FSRS, contact our National Processing Center at 1-800-444-4554 and select Option 2.

H2O and Verisk

Water supply and distribution systems are important factors in determining a community’s ISO Public Protection Classification (PPC®). We provide complimentary educational training and seminars to water providers and associations throughout the country. Contact Hugh Gibson, national water resources manager, at for more information.

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