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Update…ISO Was Here ….Where Were You?….

“WELCOME TO LAUDERDALE-BY-THE-SEA”….

That was the response given by the few who showed to hear the ISO give a “community outreach” presentation…embarrassed by the “welcome” offered to ISO and the low turnout…….

At 8:35 this writer stood outside the locked doors of Jarvis Hall….as ISO Southeastern Regional Manager-Community Mitigation Rep. Brad Bain arrived along with Mike Morash…to find the locked Jarvis Hall door…by now  “typical” to find by those invited to this town…Adding insult to injury…Mike went into Town Hall only to walk back with a somewhat quizzical look on his face and the key to the hall given to him by the receptionist!….Brad told this writer he had played “telephone tag” with the Public Information Officer over the past few days…and had called VFD Secretary Cheryl Louvaris to confirm the 9 am start time…..He also said that ISO did not allow for their presentations to be televised or recorded…citing problems in the past with nefarious people using ISO information…It turned out after Steve d’Oliveira came around 8:50 that the Town Manager said it was up to the Commission to decide and they did not vote to allow for televising it at the last meeting…OOPS!…Commissioner Dodd arrived around 8:55 and went into Town Hall to ask Clerk White to make some calls.. …Mayor Minnet arrived at 9:10…as did Chief Perkins….2 VFD  members showed up at 9:15……leaving 2 minutes later for 2 calls…1 fire alarm/1 medical…The ISO went ahead with the presentation…a power point …that basically covered what was previously posted…as an example of what would be covered……So I will post just the highlights….comments…opinions…and links….

Vice Mayor/ VFD Deputy Chief McIntee strolled in at 9:35…with Chief Perkins returning at 9:37…..Comm./VFD member Silverstone arrived shortly after…along with a Sentinel reporter at 9:50…Deputy Chief McIntee was incredibly pompous and rude leaving his radio on…making it difficult to hear the speaker…(Where were his CIC/VFD troops? He lined them up for the Town Manager to stop her annual performance review …but for the VM’s much- touted ISO being the only required “Oversight committee for the VFD”….no “parade”…HMMMM)…During a 15 minute break Comm. Dodd asked the Chief to ask his Deputy to turn it off…The Deputy/VM was “miffed” and kept it on for a few minutes…then turned it off…Later on the beepers went off and the VM/Deputy…BFF/Comm. went flying…with McIntee returning a few minutes later…alone…it is said it was a medical call!…

Before we get into the specifics…this scenario of the Town being ill-prepared for a meeting…whether this event or the advisory boards…. is unacceptable and makes it further glaringly apparent that the Town is not managed well…If the Town staff cannot get it together…open the doors early…have coffee going and welcome those who come to our town…ask a Woman’s group to volunteer or better yet since the McIntee Walk Around Committee is kaput…how about a welcome group just for these occasions?…

Originally Brad Bain said he wanted to do a program for firefighters inviting neighboring departments to “get into the nitty gritty”…also open to the public…Too bad it did not come to fruition…that would have been interesting…and informative….He said it was asked that this be a “Community thing” …So again, where was the community?…(Perhaps the Town was worried the neighboring fire departments would take a pass?)

Brad  introduced himself and Mike Morash…explained that they were both involved in the LBTS “field survey”…that Mike Morash was the lead …and went on to explain the insurance risk and the correlation to premiums…ISO is a licensed rating organization and acts as a liaison between the community and the insurance industry…

He went on to describe the “scale” of 1-10…10 being unrecognized and 1 being the best….65 communities are rated a 1…they do 350,000 surveys a year on 3,100,000 properties with 600 field reps…they  average 17 years of experience….

“Grading” communities …are  done with “established boundaries”…specified boundaries of who is protecting the community…Brad said the ISO “fire suppression rating schedule is under review”…and they work with the average level of protection…typical buildings hotels…centers…residential …not factories…the needs of the community…comparing the needs …and how they vary by infrastructure…

He spoke of the value for insurers …that it  gives them information…and spoke of the tables ( available at ISO link) used because they have found fire losses mimic the ISO classes 1-10...http://www.iso.com/

It really all came down to water availability and distance…being the primary factors…how many hydrants…how far from fire…how strong the rate of water is from the water main…flow to the hose…the size of the hoses…….flow to the fire… water availability…the distance to the fire from a station…and then the department itself…and the equipment…

The examples used the Arkansas study…when speaking of rural locations…usually the recipients of a 9 due to the lack of water…and large distances…

http://www.google.com/search?q=cache:nkbWZ-ZC2MQJ:staging.arkleg.state.ar.us/ftproot/bills/1999/htm/HB2195.pdf+arkansas+iso+study&cd=3&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=firefox-a

Also Richland, South Carolina…a “split” community …meaning some area is covered by having stations within the required distances…and some is not…either requiring an additional station to be built or a “partnering with a neighboring community to achieve coverage…”automatic aid”…to achieve the goal…

http://www.google.com/search?q=cache:ztZS4jLEugoJ:www.ipspr.sc.edu/publication/Final%2520Report2.pdf+richland+south+carolina+iso+study&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=firefox-a

Here’s what it comes down to…

Fire Alarm-10%

Fire Dept.- 50%

Water Supply-40%

Brad then spoke of first alarm basis…who’s dispatched…performance based…”pass- fail criteria”…”If you do it, you get credit”… also communication for dispatch…the structure of the calls…how many personnel on a truck……the minimum amount of apparatus…housing for the apparatus…enclosed or covered (the new canopy LBTS just bought the VFD)…and surprisingly how the fire department is “advertised” in phone books …under many different “headings”…for both emergency and non- emergency numbers…such as in the front of the book(s)…listed under the Town…the department…and “F” for fire…etc…sort of “Dummies” for fire calls…in the Yellow Pages etc……They look at the recording devices used…back-up power the “path between the communications center and the firefighters”…

The equipment…the pumper truck…the reserve pumper truck…the ladder service truck  and ladder reserve truck…..In a town of this size we need 2 trucks and a 3rd would be used as a reserve truck…a 4th truck was not required by ISO…quite a different representation than this one…(one of many such misrepresentations made by the VFD)…3/10/09 Commission meeting-public safety agenda item…being the latest one…

Public Safety Report exchange excerpts….

Commissioner Dodd-” I came and spoke to you a couple of weeks  back and I felt it was something the public should know, that we are getting a truck”…he asked the Chief to elaborate…

Chief Perkins- ” Ah, the truck we’re buying is a pumper. It’s similar to the engine that we bought a while back, Engine 212. It’s going a backup reserve and a training truck and yes it does help our ISO rating. Ah, with equipment, hoses, nozzles etc. It’s gonna be great truck to have another truck. It will be our fourth truck.”

The VM went on to again lead the Chief about the new truck and ISO…

CP-” Ah, yes they were here last week and they wanted to know if it (the truck) was on its way and ah, he he waited long enough to turn in his information. He couldn’t wait any longer so , and he’s gonna  come back on the 19th where he’s gonna do that class here and he’s gonna then check the truck out and make sure it’s what we said it was.”

The VM asked the chief if he had any indication of how it went with ISO and the equipment and such….

CP-” He, um indicated to me we were doing a very good job protecting this town.”

Fro Brad Bain ” No bonus for extra engines”….”Got 4 engines, need to be able to staff them”….”Sensible for smaller services (towns) to have a reserve ladder truck, probably not.”…”For every 8 engines-1 reserve”…

BC- we now have 4 trucks…and we still do not have a 100 ft ladder truck…which according to ISO is a must to increase a rating…A 100 ft. ladder gives a community a 100% (or the height to the tallest building)…75 ft. ladder…75%….A ladder truck is for 5 or more buildings over 3 stories…BUT…

Brad made this startling statement…(an example not intended to say they will do this for LBTS)…alarmingly strange though…He said that they are a “kinder gentler ISO” “So when you get your report and it says you have a ladder truck,you may look at it and wonder where this guy was”  …The ISO report now says you have a ladder truck when in fact you do not!…Same example was used for a reserve….HUH?….

Asked at the end of the presentation about how many trucks this size town needed it was affirmed 2 and a 3rd could be the reserve..and the 4th we will get credit but it will not improve our rating….( a ladder truck might have done that)…it was not required by ISO…The VM clearly unhappy …(Gotcha)….said it was a positive thing…it couldn’t hurt…that was affirmed by Brad…This writer responded by saying… “That was not the question.”…..The  VFD Chief said the 4th truck was for hurricanes…when it would really be needed…..WHAT?…

Just a quick aside…originally it was said this 4th truck was bought to replace a pumper…then the Chief said it was a reserve/training vehicle…and now it is for hurricanes?….Too many stories…

Brad spoke of  the “method of operation”…the ladder service locations…and if they were within the 2.5 mile distance from fire station to fire hydrant…are they serviced annually…the number of personnel…training rules are the same for both volunteer and professional departments…”some volunteers are upset about that” Brad said…He went on to talk about facilities used for training …”training towers”…”standpipes”…”drills using multi-company…multi-apparatus…night time training”…”company training…leadership -officer training…driver training…Hazmat training….recruits….pre-planning and return visits to hydrants and buildings 2x a year) and who responds on 1st alarms…credits for volunteers are different than paid firefighters because of the “restricted availability of volunteers”…”Who is at the station ready to roll”……

Brad said to himself… “Do you guys cover response times?”…the answer “NO”….He said there are “so many issues with that”…Depending on the community …such as “We start the clock here”…”We don’t capture that”…” A fire department that writes it down on a napkin”…”No response time given”…so the ISO works on
average travel time of 35 mph calculated in 1.5 miles”…”Should be 3.2 minutes”…

The report…will not be ready for another 60-90 days from now…( we were told by the VFD it would be 60-90 days from Oct.)…Brad and Mike was going after the meeting (which ended at 11 am) to inspect the new VFD pumper….They are “still working on the analysis” and after that we will receive a report with our number…( Which we have heard…not from ISO will be either a 4 or a 3…higher numbers have to do in large part to the water…the size of the town)…Then we are updated every 2 years unless called in or any major changes occur such as annexation…

Brad said when asked by this writer about ISO evaluating fire department management they only looked at level of service…”Our job is not to tell folks what to do, but evaluate what you do.”…”We don’t tell them how to run their departments”…

ISO can be reached at- 1-800 444-4557

The below site was recommended…registration is required…open to anyone…worth the time…

http://firechief.com/

more to come……..

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