Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Arlington ISO 1 Rating

Last night at our Council meeting the Mayor was presented a plaque from the State Fire Chief stating that the City of Arlington will become rated an ISO 1 city on March 1st.  Chief Jim Self was responsible for having the ISO inspector come to Arlington and working with him.  The last time this was done was 11 years ago.  This is the first inspection under the management of Chief Don Crowson. I have written an article explaining ISO previously and I will re-post the meat of the content so that the rating can be understood:

The ISO stands for Insurance Service Office which is a for profit organization that looks at various Fire Departments and rates their attributes.  This is an antiquated system that many insurance companies don’t use any more.  The largest underwriter in the U.S. is State Farm Insurance and they use a system called Public Protection Classification which divides the city into zip codes.  The ISO rating uses four main classifications:  (1) Emergency Communications 10 pts, (2) Fire Department 50 pts. (3) Water Supply 40 pts and extra points for (4) Community Risk Reduction.  An ISO difference from a 1 rating to a 2 rating does not change insurance rates of residences 1 penny.  

So let’s look at each category: (1) Emergency Communications,   Arlington has an exemplary communications system that is accredited every 3 yrs.  We updated our communication 2 yrs. ago with a new digital communications system and is one of six cities in the U.S. with EMAP accreditation.  (2) Fire Department,  This has to do with mostly training type/personnel and response times.  When it comes to our firefighters and department I will stack them up against any department in the U.S.  (3) Water Supply This mostly deals with flow supply for fire suppression, and the number of fire hydrants near suppression points.  Community Risk Reduction,  these extra points deal with fire prevention, safety education, and investigation.  Now let’s look at the last ISO rating accomplished in Arlington.  The score was 84.4.  Communications received 7.6 pts.  Water received 36.2 pts. but the biggest reduction was the Fire Department itself with a 38.7 pt. rating out of 50 possible pts.  The biggest reduction was in the amount of training per firefighter.  This would indicate that the Fire Chief and the Firefighters aren’t doing enough, right?  Wrong!  The last report was accomplished in 2007 before Don Crowson was the Chief.   The remaining points were added in community risk.

I want to stress the fact that this is the first time that the City has been looked at under the management of Chief Crowson.  He and his management team have done a remarkable job of updating and managing the fire department.  He came to Council and got $7 mil for the new radio dispatch system.  He and his team have set up training schedules to insure that our fire department has all the tools necessary for any contingency.  This along with all the rest of the awards that the fire department has received is proof of his leadership capabilities.  Yet the union wants him fired.  That is the reason that I cannot support the fire union in Arlington. 

This ISO doesn't save the citizen a penny in insurance premiums, however it does save businesses on their insurance premiums.  So if businesses want to come to Arlington to do business this is an enticement that helps them.  Congratulations to Chief Crowson and his entire management staff for this accomplishment.  And Congratulations to the Arlington Fire Department.


  1. Funny. I don't see morale rated anywhere in either system. Being former military I'm sure you understand how morale affects the troops.

  2. It is interesting to me that morale could be brought up as an issue of interest. About 4 years ago,"The Book" was published by the Union. The purpose of this publication was to have the Chief removed by alleging improper management and leadership policies. This was brought to Council and we took the allegations seriously. We directed the City Auditor to conduct a special audit of the Fire Department, and the results were that overtime had to be reduced. Then the subject of morale was brought up and we authorized an independent firm from Dallas to conduct a study. The common thread was that, "The Chief is taking all of our overtime." Really!
    The Chief was given some areas to work on and he wrote a three page memo, stating what he was going to accomplish and address these areas of concern. The Union however didn't do anything to solve their deficiencies. They blew off the audit and the study and filed a petition for Civil Service.
    Yesterday I was at the Dan Dipert dedication of the AISD Technical Career Center. I talked at length to Randy Fulton who I admire and he currently sits on the E-Board. I told him that the future rests in the leadership of individuals like him. People that are reasonable, logical, personable, and are not autonomous. I stated that only then can an improved relationship be expected between Council, City Staff, and the Fire Union. I asked a single question. Are the Arlington Firefighters better off today than they were two years ago? I ask that same question of you. Your morale is what YOU make of it. Just like your current relationship with Council, Staff, and the Commission. The Council has addressed all of your assertions. We have performed audits and studies, and addressed issues that were found, and yet you are still not pleased. The Arlington Fire Department just received an ISO 1 rating. I ask you, who was responsible for that? You or the management of the Fire Department?
    The Union has stated that you want to advance people because of, "What they know not who they know." So the Civil Service Commission cancelled that advancement exam and will retest on February 12th, under Part 143 Civil Service guidelines. They are doing what is required under Civil Service. What is the Union's response? They sue the Commission and Staff for doing exactly what you have asked. If the only thing that is important is morale, I strongly suggest that you look from within for an improvement in morale. The future is up to you and guys like Randy Fulton.


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