The Edmond Sun

April 22, 2013

Fire Department predicts drop in city’s ISO rating

Mark Schlachtenhaufen
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — Edmond residents likely will receive lower fire insurance premiums thanks to improvements, the city’s top fire official said.

ISO maintains information about public fire protection and compiles and electronically maps the exact positions of fire stations, sources of water and fire protection area boundaries in communities across the country.

Insurers who write more than 85 percent of property insurance in the U.S. license ISO’s data, according to ISO.

Fire suppression, emergency medical services and technical rescue are the top three programs desired by residents, according to the Edmond Fire Department’s 2013-18 strategic plan.

“Although the number of fires has gone down, that is still what people want out of their fire department,” Edmond Fire Chief Jake Rhoades said. “We are a big insurance blanket, and they expect us to be ready at all times. And that’s what we’re doing.”

In addition to extensive training on fighting fires, the Fire Department dedicates resources for preventing them, Rhoades said. The agency has already met with ISO, which is part of its strategic plan along with becoming accredited.

“We’re going to lower our ISO,” Rhoades said. “If you’re getting a better ISO rating, if you’re getting accredited, you’re a better fire department. And that’s our goal.”

ISO’s program classifies every community by assigning a grading from 1-10 with 1 being the best. To receive a Class 8 designation or better, the water supply system must be able to deliver at least 250 gallons per minute for a period of two hours.

That flow is in addition to the community’s maximum daily rate of consumption for purposes other than firefighting. The grading takes into account water pressure, consistency of water flow and impact on the hydrant during times of high water demand in other parts of the system, such as a system’s ability to handle two fires simultaneously.

ISO also tracks alternative water systems, for example, where tankers are used to truck water to fire scenes.

Fire Maj. Bill Brown said Edmond’s ISO rating consists of two numbers — the first for areas west of Interstate 35, the second for areas east of I-35. Edmond’s fire protected area (where water source is present) rating is 3/9. Edmond’s Fire Department serviced rating (where the department transports water into an area) is 5/10.

Brown said the city has bought land dedicated to fire station improvements -— a parcel located east of the 15th and Kelly intersection for the relocation of Fire Station 2 and a second near Kelly and Sorghum Mill north of Cross Timbers Elementary for a potential Fire Station 6.

Rhoades said the Fire Department cares about providing equal services to all areas of the city, including less populated areas east of I-35. Water is delivered by tanker to some areas due to a lack of hydrants.

“We’ve got to think about all of Edmond,” he said.

Rhoades said fire suppression is a big part of the fire component in a new Fire Protection Rating Schedule due to be finalized in July. Another component is response time, and the Fire Department seeks to lower that number during the coming year in a safe manner, Rhoades said.

Rhoades said in the future he could see potentially seven or eight stations in the city. Officials want to proceed in a way that’s best for the Fire Department and the city, he said.

Statistical data on insurance losses bears out the relationship between excellent fire protection as measured by the ISO’s program and low fire losses, according to ISO. | 341-2121, ext. 108