Insurance Services Organization (ISO) Rating

St. Augustine Fire Department achieves rare Insurance Services Organization (ISO) Class 1 rating. Ratings are funny things. The rules governing them can shift and change over time, making it a challenge to achieve top marks. Conflate that with a system of diverse complexities and vigorous standards to maintain and it becomes clear why the Insurance Services Office rating is the near-universal standard on risk management.

How Rare a Class 1 Rating is to Achieve

No fire department just gets to the top, it clearly has to earn it. An ISO Class 1 rating is a true rarity, a fraction of the top 1% of all fire departments nationwide. It has been awarded to only 329 of the nation’s roughly 45,000 fire departments. The training and preparation involved in receiving a Class 1 rating are rigorous. It’s been called an all hands on deck environment by the men and women of the department. And pride is the only payoff. These efforts, however, are just the beginning. It truly is a citywide accomplishment, and more.

Chief Carlos Aviles Provides Insight

Chief Carlos Aviles nailed it by saying We can’t be ISO 1 alone. The fire protection provided to the City of St. Augustine’s residents and visitors is a near-seamless partnership between city and county fire services, a distinction that many aren’t even aware exists. That partnership is the foundation upon which so much more is built.

Public Works Department

The City’s Public Works department is critical to keeping infrastructure clear. Street upgrades were designed with fire and law enforcement in mind. The fire department is also part of the design team. That collaboration led to curb-less sidewalks, movable bollards on pedestrian streets, wide turn lanes and street lights staggered from left to right on the narrow streets downtown so that the large, modern fire trucks could better navigate the old city streets and possible obstructions. 

Engineering & Distribution

Engineering and Distribution maintains peak water pressures and fire hydrants are flow-tested and inspected at regular intervals. With water supply accounting for 40% of the overall rating score, focusing on replacing old lines was critical and they could simultaneously be upsized to increase hydrant flow rates in areas where they needed improvement.

Code Enforcement

Code Enforcement is involved by ensuring new building is to code, and bringing older ones into code compliance in terms of fire safety. Fleet Maintenance provides critical services in keeping the ‘front-line’ apparatus in service to the greatest extent possible because points are lost when fire crews have to use reserve trucks.

Fire Prevention Division

Last but not least, the Fire Prevention division makes continuous improvements in ‘community risk reduction’, a broad term that encompasses a myriad of types of public engagement in areas such as fire safety education, annual inspections and code compliance.

Firefighters Purpose

While all of those efforts by the various departments citywide are in constant motion, City firefighters focused on making small, but highly critical disciplined changes. In the fire service, you can’t focus on saving minutes. True improvements in time savings come in the form of seconds; by shaving off seconds getting into gear, getting to the truck, and getting hose lines deployed. Adding those seconds up is how you end up with significant improvements to overall response times as opposed to simply trying to drive faster to an emergency call. Through the means of systemic symbiosis and hard work, the efforts by all have clearly paid off to attain such a monumental achievement.