Rating causes controversy over public safety debate

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CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (KWWL) – An insurance Service Office report says that Cedar Falls Fire Rescue could see a lower rating, if some changes aren’t made.

“It’s a relationship of providing better service to the citizens. The poor rating does equate to poor service,” said firefighter union president Scott Dix.

Dix sent KWWL the above report as well as emails between fire chief John Bostwick and ISO. He claims Cedar Falls has not been forthcoming about the information.

“It’s never been brought up, and i think that’s by intention,” said Dix.

“A couple of times we’ve been asked at council about the ISO rating, and my answer to them is we’re still a 3 but we’ll be reevaluated in February and I’ve said that in several meetings,” said Public Safety Director Jeff Olson.

Olson did speak briefly about ISO at the November 5th meeting.

Out of the entire report, Cedar Falls scored high in water supply and low in personnel as well as training.

Olson says they’ve held several training’s in the last 18 months, 3 being a live house burn.

“We thought that was significant, but the ISO people said it wasn’t as significant as going to a regional training center, which Waterloo has. Which we didn’t do because we had those live house fires,” said Olson.

Dix sees the training score differently.

“In an effort to try and equate the training of the PSOs to the training of the firefighters, they’ve lowered the standard so low, now the ISO says that’s inadequate,” said Dix.

The department says part of their low scores were due to a recording issue, saying ISO wants things a certain way. One point in the report shows a score of 0 for Standard Operating Procedures, but Olson was able to show some of those guidelines to our crew.

Emails show the city’s plan to increase their response to fires with more personnel and equipment.
Dix still has his doubts.

“There’s a level of truthfulness, what you say you’re doing on paper, and then there’s actual follow up and are you actually doing those things,” said Dix.

According to State Farm, the largest provider of home insurance in the nation, they don’t consider ISO ratings to determine premiums for homeowners or businesses.

“We’ve got to decide operationally, do we do something because we think its the right thing, or do we do it to satisfy ISO, those are some of things we’re looking at and decide what to do,” said Olson.

The city has until the end of February to make those changes to maintain the class-three ISO rating, which is above the national average of 5.

Check out this Q & A with our team:


Taylor Vessel

Taylor Vessel

Multimedia Reporter
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