“In the spring of 2018 our goal wasn’t just to decrease our ISO rating, but to become leaders in Illinois in pre-planning and safety for our department and community. Our firefighters need easy access to data to make the best decisions quickly.”Damon Schuldt, Fire Chief
Kankakee Fire Department was approaching their periodic ISO review and knew they needed to dramatically increase and update their commercial pre-plans in order to decrease ISO scores.
Pre-planned 200 structures in 3 weeks using FlowMSP technology
The Insurance Services Office (ISO), uses a system for determining the price of fire insurance in a community through a 1 to 10 classification system. The evaluators that ISO sends to fire departments use National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) guidelines to determine the quality of the service fire departments provide to the community they serve.
Ultimately, this rating not only affects a citizens insurance rates, but can be used to determine the quality of service a department provides.
ISO classifies fire departments with a numeric score, – with a Class 1 distinction being the best fire department the community could have.
Fire departments control over 50% of the ISO rating that lowers consumers insurance premiums in cities across the country.
Fire departments are met with an important challenge. To achieve top honors from ISO, and earn full credit for pre-planning, they must size-up each commercial, industrial, institutional and other similar type buildings once a year. This keeps information, images, and data up to date and accurate.
Since a manual pre-plan can take over 3 hours to complete, few, if any, departments can successfully achieve this. Most fire departments would consider it a success to pre-plan a majority of buildings once a year, since most departments pre-plan a building every 3-5 years.
“A class 1 department has a greater chance of saving a structure and reducing costs for a business and a community.”
Commercial builders and corporations looking to expand businesses into new communities look at these ratings as indicators of where to build and expand business. A class 1 department has a greater chance of saving a structure and reducing costs for a business and a community. Most communities want growth and will put pressure on their fire departments to increase their ISO score. ISO scores a department based on several criteria:
Each of these components is rated separately and then a total score is developed. Departments who fail to achieve a high ISO score are wise to fix their issues, contact ISO and request a review.
In 2018, Kankakee Fire Department had already achieved a stellar ISO rating of 2, an almost impossible score to beat. But there was one area the department wanted to improve– pre-planning.
Like most other fire departments, Kankakee had fallen behind with their pre-planning of commercial buildings due to time and resource constraints. But with a new Chief on board, the department was poised to make a move to enhance it’s rating.
Kankakee FD is a full time Fire Department with four stations running over 6,000 calls per year, serving a community of almost 30,000 in central Illinois. Fire Chief Damon Schuldt and Deputy Chief Jeff Bruno set a goal of improving their ISO ranking in order to appeal to more business in the area. Businesses often use ISO rankings as a criteria in their decisions as to where to commercialize, as rankings indicate a community’s ability to thrive.
Schuldt stated, “While we lacked the internal resources to complete pre-plans efficiently, we were determined to not just check the box here for ISO. We needed a software that would integrate into our daily routines effectively, and would be used by everyone quickly.”
Upon choosing Flow MSP for its ease of use and reliable data, Kankakee FD was able to begin integration of the software within 24 hours, and pre-planned their first building within hours of first logging into the software.
FlowMSP Implementation Manager, Dana Jennings, explains how quickly the department was able to utilize the software. “I visited the team on day of the contract, and within minutes of activating the software, the team began pre-planning their first structure.”
While citing a lack of resources and spending over three hours to pre-plan a building, Kankakee firefighters can now pre-plan a building in less than 15 minutes. According to Bruno, “It is not uncommon for us to spend less than six minutes preplanning a structure. The software is intuitive, agile, and developing constantly. It thinks like a firefighter.” Firefighters at the Kankakee Department can now view their pre-plans en route to a call, enhancing their emergency response and decision making capabilities.
A return on investment that is perhaps, immeasurable.
“It is not uncommon for us to spend less than six minutes preplanning a structure. The software is intuitive, agile, and developing constantly. It thinks like a firefighter.”Jeff Bruno, Deputy Chief
All fire departments access shared services and mutual aid in order to serve communities more efficiently. When fire departments are called upon to serve communities they are unfamiliar with, they lack previous exposure or knowledge of the structure. To make matters worse, these departments have no ability to access any information while in-route to the call.
While on scene, this lack of exposure causes more radio chatter, while departments share information, access data, and set up incident command.
With FlowMSP, data can be accessed and shared in real-time before and during an incident. FlowMSP CEO Jason Marvel explains, “We see data being shared in two ways – in mutual aid, between cities or rural communities where departments are continuously called to share resources, or between municipalities – where a police department may need access to the same data source that the fire department needs – like in an active shooting scenario,” states Marvel.
By sharing this data, and each department collecting and distributing it, mutual response strategies lowers the risk to firefighters injury and increases the operational efficiency for responding units outside their service areas.
“We see data being shared in two ways – in mutual aid, between cities or rural communities where departments are continuously called to share resources, or between municipalities – where a police department may need access to the same data source that the fire department needs – like in an active shooting scenario.”Jason Marvel, CEO, FlowMSP, Inc.
Armed with Flow technology, Kankakee Fire Department opted to use only a cellular phone to take pictures of their structures and were able to pre-plan over 200 structures in 3 weeks. Most structures took under 6 minutes to pre-plan. Following the 4 steps to pre-planning guide of snapping photos, annotating pictures, using the drop down menu to add structural information like roof type and occupancy information and finally adding the NFPA icons for easy identification when the tones alarm, Kankakee is now more prepared than ever before.
ISO inspections can occur randomly, and as of the date of publishing, Chief’s Schuldt and Bruno are still waiting for theirs. But they are finally prepared knowing the firefighters on their staff are safe and the structures in their community have been amply prepared for.