Bloomington fire department’s top ISO score feted

On Friday morning, just outside the pavilion at Switchyard Park, Bloomington mayor John Hamilton and city council president Jim Sims undraped a new logo on the fire department’s Engine 5.

The new design features the numeral “1” and the phrase “ISO Class,” to highlight the Bloomington fire department’s recent score of 1, awarded by Insurance Service Office, Inc. (ISO).

That’s the top score on a 10-point scale, which is based on: the fire department’s equipment, staffing, training, and geographic distribution of stations (50%); water supply (40%); and emergency communications (10%).

Fire chief Jason Moore noted that the truck used for the unveiling is the oldest in the department’s fleet. But it’s not that old—it was purchased in 2016 and delivered in 2017.

Replacement of fire apparatus has been one of the investments made with revenue from the public safety local income tax, which was authorized in 2016.

Up-to-date fire trucks are one of factors feeding into the ISO score.

Before this year’s designation, Bloomington’s fire department was rated 2. Five years ago, Bloomington’s department had a score of 3.

In 2020, out of 39,850 fire departments nationwide, just 388, less than 1 percent, had an ISO rating of 1.

The news of Bloomington’s new top rating came in a release issued by the mayor’s office in mid-September.

But the new rating was not a surprise. At his Aug. 24 departmental budget hearing in front of the city council, fire chief Moore told councilmembers that ISO had completed its review this year, and the department was expecting to be notified soon about its score.

Moore told the city council in August, “We’re approaching the window that they gave where they would make a decision. After our discussions, they told us that we should be happy with it, but they will not tell us exactly what that score is.”

Moore told the council that based on the math behind the scores, he knew the department would not lose any ground.” He was at the time optimistic. “I do anticipate an improved rating,” he said.

In addition to a few dozen firefighters, several city department heads attended Friday morning’s ceremony. Among them was Vic Kelson, director of Bloomington utilities. Getting a mention during mayor Hamilton’s remarks were the more than 3,000 city fire hydrants that provide the water supply that’s crucial to fire protection.

Moore’s remarks focused on the good outcomes that the score reflects, more than the ISO score itself. He highlighted the department’s 10 rescues and zero fire fatalities over the last four years.

Also delivering remarks on Friday morning was city council president Jim Sims. He highlighted the achievement of the improved rating as the result of collaboration between the administration, the city council, the fire department and the community, framing it under the slogan: “Teamwork makes the dream work.”

The new score could have a practical benefit to property owners in Bloomington’s fire protection area, according to the city’s news release. According to the news release, the improved new rating could result in a decrease of annual insurance premiums. The news release encourages property owners to contact their insurance providers.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.