Denver ISO Training Snafu

Firegeezer and STATTER911 beat me to this story, but Denver has fessed up on a snafu with training records. You can read the story and there take here and here.

The reason I want to discuss it is because of the issues I see with ISO and how departments handle their classification.

The Denver Fire Department submitted flawed training data to an insurance-rating agency that may set insurance prices for homeowners and businesses, officials with the department said Tuesday.

Denver Fire Chief Nick Nuanes said about 40 percent of the 13,000 hours of training records had inaccuracies.

Nuanes said that the problem stemmed from data-entry errors and that nobody purposefully falsified the data. He said the Fire Department is overhauling the way it keeps the information to prevent such problems from occurring in the future. Read the entire article

I have seen this kind of thing with my own eyes. Really and TRUTHFULLY when the ISO comes to pay a visit, shouldn’t your department be graded at face value. It is perfectly acceptable for a department to institute new methods prior to ISO coming in order to become better. Throwing those new methods out the day after ISO leaves town is not acceptable. That ethical approach just isn’t shared by every department.

Much like sweeping dirty clothes under the bed when visitors come to your house, the mess is still there. I have seen equipment haphazardly placed on trucks, training records kept, and other appearances altered in the sake of ISO coming to town. Once they board that plane back to ISO land, all that stuff is put back to normal. Who are we cheating?

Don’t missinterpret me as to saying that the Denver Fire Department has lied. I just used this as an opprotunity to talk about other issues with ISO.

In the wake of the Charleston 9, ISO and the rating given to the Charleston Fire Department was scrutinized. Rightfully so. Some of the actions, equipment used, radio usage, and other things are not something you should see in an ISO rated 1 Fire Department.  There is a great article here on

OK. Nine years ago, when Charleston met the Class 1 rating, it had a staff that could meet the water supply, ladder and other requirements. But as I drove along the main street to the Sofa Super Store, hydrants were few and far between. How does ISO take into account the buildings taller than five stories that have been built in the past five years?

Another problem is that personnel retire and new officers are appointed. Can a department still meet the criteria established when a rating was awarded? How effective is a rating system that relies only on input from the end user for updates?

The truth is that fire departments often find ways of cheating the system. The fire service and fire departments hold firefighters to high ethical and moral standards, yet they don’t follow along themselves. This just isn’t fair. If you want that ISO rating then make the necessary changes to get it. If you fall short the first time, invite them back after making more changes that are perminant changes. As for ISO, the process of allowing departments to keep the highest rating attainable as long as they want is a flawed system. It has consequences but more importantly it cheapens the process.