News Release, Bay District Volunteer Fire Department

By R. Keith Fairfax, Jr – Water Supply Officer/BDVD (With comment by Mark Davis, GBW Associates, LLC)

The Bay District Volunteer Fire Department (BDVFD) is proud to announce that the Insurance Service Office (ISO) recently reviewed the Bay District Volunteer Fire Department and awarded the department a Class 2/2Y rating effective March 1, 2019. This means that all residents and commercial rate payers in the hydrant areas of the Eight Election District, St. Mary’s County MD should see a change in the Fire Protection Section of their Premiums.

The BDVFD has 120 members, two stations, four 1500 GPM engines and one on order. One of the engines is a pumper/tanker carrying 2500 gallons of water and a 3000-gallon portable tank and equipment to support a tanker shuttle operation. We also have a 100’ tiller ladder truck, 75’ Aerial Scope and a Heavy-Duty Rescue Squad. The BDVFD services 50 square miles and a population of 38,167. The department identified and marked twelve drafting sites and thirteen hydrants as tanker fill sites.

The BDVFD was fortunate to have Fire Chiefs over the last 20 years that have had the vision and drive to improve our ISO rating. In the last two years, Fire Chief Wahrenbrock established a 5-person ISO project team which included a chief officer (operations/SOP’/SOG’s), former chief officer (training/certification record keeping), water supply specialist (over all coordinator), pumps/aerial instructor and senior member with IT/Microsoft office skills. In addition the department maintained an NFPA online subscription; ISO is NFPA-based and we used the subscription substantially in our process…starting with NFPA 1720.

There were three elements of the ISO evaluation: (1) the St. Mary’s County Emergency Management Agency which includes the 911 center that alerts, dispatches and provide communications; (2) the Fire Department and all aspects of operations, training, annual testing, fire prevention, community risk reduction, safety…most important is the record keeping of all those activities/functions ; and (3) the central water authority that is provided by the St. Mary’s County Metropolitan Commissioner that provides the annual hydrant flow testing records and hydrant marking in accordance with NFPA, water storage and maintains some 1800 hydrants throughout St. Mary’s county.

Effective communication with the 911 Center and the Metropolitan Commission was paramount. We were fortunate that St. Mary’s County has a mutual aid agreement with Naval District Washington that provides career personal & equipment to our first due area.

ISO assigns up to 10 points to Emergency Management Agency (911 Center), up to 40 points to the central water authority and up to 50 points to the Fire Department for a total of possible 100 points. The Emergency Management Agency and Water Authority impact all fire departments in the county and have a substantial impact on the class rating. It is most important that the Fire Department communicate with these outside agencies and make known the fire department’s and ISO’s data and performance requirements.

The BDVFD was also fortunate that the Maryland Fire & Rescue Institute provided all training and transcripts and the Maryland Fire Service Professional Qualification Board provided professional certifications for the ISO process.

Remember: Record Keeping; Record Keeping; Record Keeping

BDVFD is available to meet with any department interested in improving their ISO rating.

Comment By Mark Davis, President, GBW Associates, LLC:

Bay District Volunteer Fire Department’s success at achieving a Class 2 rating is a great example of dedication to improve service through planning and implementation. Anyone who has gone through the ISO survey process knows that we (the fire department) often leave “points on the table” because we failed to document activities that we already do. Mr. Fairfax’s comment about record-keeping is critical; the ISO process is about keeping good records of all fire department activities with special emphasis on training, station staffing, response staffing, and apparatus and equipment testing. Did I mention that the BDVFD is an all-volunteer organization? Pretty impressive to achieve a Class 2/2Y rating with an all-volunteer operation!

Certainly, BDVFD’s Class 2/2Y rating directly impacts property owners in the BDVFD response area. From a County-level, BDVFD’s success is a good example of why County-level services (dispatch, public water, etc) need to ” be in the game” because those services are taxpayer funded and have a huge impact on a local fire department’s ISO rating.

Congratulations to the Bay District VFD on a job well-done!

David M. Higgins II, Publisher/Editor

David M. Higgins was born in Baltimore and grew up in Southern Maryland. He has had a passion for journalism since high school. After spending many years in the Hospitality Industry he began working in...