|The Woodlands Township was awarded the Insurance Service Office (ISO) 1 rating on May 1, 2014. Very few communities in North America hold this prestigious rating. When the community was evaluated in 2013, The Woodlands Fire Department scored 91.07. To obtain an ISO Class 1 rating, ninety (90) points are needed.
The community’s ISO rating is important to residential and commercial owners, as their insurance premium rate is directly affected by the rating. It is also a key component for corporations considering relocation to The Woodlands.
The State of Texas is the only state that provides oversight during the ISO approval and reevaluation process. This has been an important benefit to communities of our state. The Texas Fire Marshal’s Office is currently the authority having jurisdiction over the ISO rating system. Texas Fire Marshal appointments are made by the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI), and staff anticipates key leadership changes within the Texas Fire Marshal’s Office in the near future due to planned retirements.
Recently, ISO amended the grading criteria used to score communities in North America. ISO is currently steering towards reevaluating ISO Class 1 communities in Texas within five (5) years to specifically address the new grading criteria. Under state oversight, Texas communities are currently only required to reevaluate every ten (10) years. Should the state allow for the initial frequency of reevaluation from 10 to five years based on the new criteria, the Township would be due for reevaluation as early as June 2018.
More importantly to the Township is the new grading criterion which was adopted by ISO in 2015, and analyzed by industry experts since its inception. According to our consultant, the new criteria is not point neutral and could easily push our community’s grade downward into the upper 80s under less experienced State Fire Marshal’s Office leadership.
Based on our initial meetings with our consultant, there are three significant changes that may impact our ISO rating:
Other communities have requested, or are planning to request, an ISO revaluation earlier than required in order to take advantage of the current state oversight. Examples include Plano, Frisco, Grand Prairie, Richardson, McKinney, and Webster.
- ISO adopted two new methods for calculating the Deployment Analysis used to determine adequate levels of fire response coverage. The previous method used in 2013, Standard Response Districts, adequately served our purpose. However, if we were to use this same method today as revised, our score would be significantly reduced. The community must rely on the new Systematic Deployment Analysis, recently adopted by ISO.
- ISO omitted the “Texas Addendum” and revised to the “Texas Exception.” The exception allows Texas communities to receive credit for Texas A&M (TEEX) fire training classes and the use of Compressed Air Foam Systems (CAFS). This change negatively affects our score, losing one half point from the 2013 ISO evaluation.
- Mutual/Automatic Aid staffing levels will now carry more weight than previously. Our consultant believes this will benefit the Township. Further analysis is required.
Considering potential changes in appointments within the State Fire Marshal’s Office, senior ISO evaluator positions, and the new grading criteria; staff believes a timely reevaluation is important to utilize current evaluators that are familiar with The Woodlands. In addition, staff recommends, in lieu of the Request For Proposals (RFP) process, utilizing the firm of Mike Pietsch, P.E. Consulting Services, Inc., previously used to assist in performing an ISO survey of our community.
Sole source justification includes:
Consultant services deliverables include:
- The community was successful in utilizing the same consultant in 2004, advancing from ISO Class 4 to ISO Class 3; and in 2008 from ISO Class 3 to ISO Class 2; and finally in 2013 from ISO Class 2 to ISO Class 1.
- Endorsed by the Texas Fire Chiefs Association (TFCA).
- Excellent relationship with ISO representatives currently surveying communities in Texas.
- Excellent relationship with the state oversight representative from the Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office.
- Worked for the Insurance Service Office (ISO) over 27 years performing Public Protection Classifications (PPC) of communities in Texas.
- Rated over 660 communities using Fire Suppression Rating Schedule (FSRS).
- Edited City and Fire Jurisdiction ratings in Texas from 1984 to 1997 for ISO and its predecessor organization, The Fire Prevention and Engineering Bureau of Texas.
- Principal member of the National Fire Protection Association 1901 (NFPA Committee that writes the specifications for fire apparatus) for over 13 years and continues to be a member of this committee.
Should the Board approve utilizing the same consultant used in 2013, it is projected that our community’s score will remain in the 90s given the results from the Systematic Deployment Analysis and the additional Mutual/Automatic Aid credit. Staff recommends requesting an ISO reevaluation through the State Fire Marshal’s Office mid to late summer of 2017, to preserve the Public Protection Class 1 rating for an additional length of time under state oversight.
- Assimilate all information required for the ISO Pre-Survey Packet in accordance with the new grading criteria.
- Verify all information and support data within the ISO Pre-Survey Packet (site visit required).
- Transfer all information to the ISO field representative during the reevaluation process (site visit required).