Insurance Services Office (ISO) Audit Support


The Insurance Services Office (ISO) is the fire industry standard
bearer for developing and implementing risk mitigation standards that
local and regional fire departments use for managing their internal
assets, requesting capital improvements, and providing training to
department personnel in an effort to reduce the over risk of
fire-related problems within their respective response areas. Every
ten years, the ISO conducts a department audit to measure how equipped
the department is in handling a fire event and to determine the level of
risk they carry based on certain criteria, such as number and location
of available hydrants and the condition of the department’s vehicles.
For the Village of Winnetka, IL Fire Department, this audit was recently
conducted and, in order to help display some of the available
department assets and other functions the department is capable of, the
department turned to the village’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
Department to assist with developing a series of maps that were provided
to the ISO auditor to use as a visual review tool.

Some of the map products requested by the department include
fire hydrant location and flow rate maps, building sprinkler system
installation maps, and vehicle drive time and standard of coverage maps
that were used to show the area covered by the department’s vehicles
within a certain period of time. For the drive time and standard of
coverage maps, the department provided the GIS Department with the
standard response time they use to measure against for response
efficiency, less than 4 minutes, and asked that several maps be
generated showing both the total area that could be covered by the
department vehicles and how far they could cover within the specified
time. The data for these maps was created in less than a day using a
road network analysis tool available in the GIS software used by the
village GIS personnel and all maps were completed and made available for
review by the ISO auditor within two weeks of being requested. Without
GIS, this process would have taken considerably longer and may not have
been completed in time for the department’s audit, which would have put
the department at a disadvantage for being able to convey the
information they wanted to share.

Using GIS to assist with the Fire Department’s ISO audit gave
the department staff a collection of powerful visual tools that provide
proof that the department has taken the necessary steps to mitigate fire
risk within the village and is properly equipped to respond to fire
events. Without using GIS, while some of the requested information
could be provided, the amount of time needed by department staff to
compile that information would be significant, which could result in a
delay in the audit’s completion or, in the case of the vehicle drive
time maps, prevent the department form providing the auditor with vital
information regarding the department’s response capabilities.