INDUSTRY EXPERTS SPEAK OUT
The IAFC visits ISO headquarters in Jersey City, N.J. Pictured left to right are Skip Gibson, manager; Kevin Kuntz, assistant vice president; Mike Waters, vice president; Chief Jeff Johnson, president and chairman of the IAFC; Paul LeSage, assistant chief, Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue, Oregon; Ed Straw, senior technical coordinator; Joe Masington, assistant vice president; Robert (Butch) Cobb, community hazard mitigation national director; and Ralph Dorio, community hazard mitigation manager.
The president and chairman of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), Jeff Johnson, has endorsed the upcoming revisions to ISO’s Fire Suppression Rating Schedule (FSRS). The FSRS is a manual containing the criteria ISO uses in reviewing the firefighting capabilities of individual communities. The schedule measures the major elements of a community’s fire-suppression system and develops a numerical grading or Public Protection Classification (PPCTM).
“The FSRS incorporates nationally accepted standards developed by such organizations as the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO), and the American Water Works Association (AWWA),” said Mike Waters, vice president of Risk Decision Services at ISO. “When those organizations update their standards, the ISO evaluation changes as well. So, the PPC program always provides a useful benchmark that helps fire departments and public officials measure the effectiveness of their efforts — and plan for improvements.”
After engaging in discussions with a variety of stakeholders in organizations that deal with fire, water, and emergency communications, ISO embarked on a project to review and update the content of its FSRS. “We’ve developed a list of potential modifications and additions to the current FSRS, and we’ll beta test the revisions to assure reliability and consistent application,” said Waters. “Following the test process, ISO will confer with stakeholders before finalizing the document and filing it in each state.”
Updates include revisions to the FSRS emergency communications section, possible revisions to the fire department and water-supply sections, and references to community risk-reduction programs.
“ISO has recently set the stage for a new era of connection to the fire and emergency service and the communities it serves by completing a much-needed upgrade of its Fire Suppression Rating Schedule,” said Chief Johnson in his year-end message to IAFC members. “The IAFC congratulates the leadership at ISO for this update and, more important, for their commitment to continuous quality improvement. The ISO thread will continue to link fire departments to each other and their communities. It’s evident that ISO’s goal is to work with the fire service to weave a stronger position of protection for our communities.”
The new rating system recognizes accredited departments and will include recognition of a science-based standard of coverage. Where sufficient data exists, the new standard will measure a department’s operational performance in time-based measurements, as opposed to the traditional distance-based method of coverage. The system also provides points of credit for fire prevention, an updated technology section, and many other meaningful improvements.
“The fire and emergency service will be well served by having ISO lead the way with a progressive rating system that pulls our industry forward,” added Johnson. “The new rating system goes a long way toward these goals.”
Mark Light, chief executive officer and executive director of the IAFC, concurs with Johnson about ISO’s valuable role in community fire protection. “The IAFC is a strong proponent of enhancing the fire and EMS community’s capabilities to collect, analyze, and apply data, whether in a local department or with regard to national policy. ISO’s collection of data is truly amazing. They have information on every department and community in the United States. What adds even more value to the data is that it’s available to fire chiefs to use in the day-to-day management of their departments. With the economic impacts that departments face, data is critical in making informed decisions on deployment of resources in a community. We’re excited to explore opportunities with ISO and see if we can further assist the community with those goals,” commented Light.
Learn more about the FSRS modifications »