City of Houston firefighters overwhelmingly voted against a new contract Tuesday, with 93 percent voting no.
The deal created by the city and Firefighters’ Local 341 offered a 4 percent raise to firefighters. Of the 2,900 firefighters voting, 2,700 voted against it.
Former Mayor Lee P. Brown had a vision to save his constituents money knowing there is really no way a Fire Department can generate revenue similar to the Police Department. Coming from a Police background he had the foresight to commit money, time, and apparatus along with station placement to give back to the community by lowering the Fire Departments ISO rating. Each station and piece of equipment is precisely calculated to provide the best possible coverage for each homeowner and commercial business within the City limits.
Currently, Mayor Annise Parker and City Council have decided to “brown out” stations and put fire trucks out of service in order to balance the budget that is in shortfall. At the same time they managed to blame the firefighters on the streets for this short coming and not hold the Fire Chief and his staff accountable for their budget. Regardless who is to blame, it is no secret the Mayor does not have a positive relationship with the Fire Department due to the lack of endorsements over the years. However, you the tax payers are going to pay the price for this short coming over the next several years through your insurance premiums.
Within the next two years the Insurance Services Office will reevaluate the Houston Fire Department to see if their ISO 1 has been maintained. It will not take long for them to realize that stations were browned out and the manpower was sent elsewhere in the City. These brown outs will automatically re-grade the department at a higher rate doubling and possibly tripling your insurance premiums.
A few facts:
Effective April 1, 2003 the Houston Fire Department became an ISO Class 1 Fire Department, which is the highest possible class. Although this in itself is an outstanding achievement, the Houston Fire Department’s score makes it the best-of-the-best with the score of 97.01. This is the highest score ever by any fire department at that time.
According to data from the Texas Department of Insurance, the Houston Fire department saves homeowners in excess of 401 million dollars each year due to the level of fire protection services offered on a budget of 277 million dollars. That is an average savings of $522 a year per household. Commercial, business, rental, and contents savings could be up to three times that figure.
December 2001, the Insurance Services Office [ISO] raised the Houston Fire Department’s ISO Rating from a Class 3 to Class 2. This is the latest feather in Houston Fire Department’s hat to go along with highest cardiac survivability rate in the U.S. and largest accredited fire department in the world.
Out of 2,355 fire departments within Texas, 12 are ISO Class 1. Out of 55,397 fire departments nationwide 57 are Class 1. The Houston Fire Department is the fourth largest metropolitan fire department in the US and the largest ISO Class 1 fire department in the World.
Note: As of 2001 Texas ties California for the state with the most ISO Class 1 fire departments.
The ISO also rated the unincorporated county areas serviced by the Houston Fire Department and those areas are also being rated a Class 1. This represents an improvement from a Class 9 and will represent a significant savings [expected rates to drop two thirds] in property insurance costs for commercial and residential properties.
Another important fact is that The Insurance Service Office has to be invited back to be re-graded by the department head or a major change in providing service like brown outs. Some may argue that not all insurance companies use ISO which is correct but they all buy information from ISO to grade the area they are insuring. Just like buying a car if you don’t like the price shop around.
As the political game plays on take some time to educate yourself by contacting the State Fire Marshal s office or ISO.com and get the true answers you as tax payers deserve. Don’t wait for the politicians to sit back and spend your money!
SA;ARY COMPARISONS AVERAGE
WASHINGTON D.C. –47,338