Beginning Nov. 1, Irving will join the ranks of 26 other cities in the state and 97 cities across the country when it becomes an official ISO-1 city.
The designation, made by the Insurance Services Office, has been the primary target of the Irving Fire Department since 2015, when it received its last ISO-2 rating. With the use of approved bond funds from 1999 and 2006, the city was able to build the Irving/Grand Prairie Joint Fire Training Facility and Fire Station No. 12, and add a 100-foot tiller-ladder truck to its fleet of fire and rescue equipment. The additional infrastructure items, as well as 42 new personnel to cover staffing of Fire Station No. 12, helped secure Irving’s ISO-1 classification.
While residents and businesses may experience varying declines in their insurance premiums, the designation is an enticing draw for companies looking to relocate. When businesses research prospective cities, they compare several cost and service factors. The most common questions the Irving Economic Development Department faces are its ISO rating, taxes, school districts and accessibility to highways. With five major highways running throughout Irving, one of the lowest municipal tax rate, proximity to Dallas Fort Worth International (DFW) Airport, advanced private and public schools, and the ISO classification, Irving is a top candidate for corporate relocation.
“We want our residents and business community to know their safety and quality of life are our top concerns,” said Irving Mayor Rick Stopfer. “When companies look to Irving, we want them to feel confident knowing that not only will they receive a discount on their insurance rate with our ISO classification, but that we continuously invest in departments that will directly affect them.”
Building the Fleet
Every municipality is given an ISO rating, which ranges from 1 to 10, where 1 is the highest. The score is based on a city’s emergency communications, water distribution system and fire department. For those who live in rural communities, insurance rates run higher than for urban residents. When a fire or catastrophic event occurs in rural areas, where residents are spread out and emergency services are limited, the possibility of property damage increases because of longer response times from first responders.
While response times in Irving are much faster than for a rural community, the Fire Department found there were still areas in need of improvement, including the communities near the Hackberry Creek and Valley Ranch neighborhoods. The area lacked the proper coverage to meet the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) standard on response times.
According to the NFPA, the first piece of fire apparatus must arrive in four minutes or less, while the total response of 15 firefighters must arrive within eight minutes. The study showed that Fire Department response times in the area were two to four minutes later than the requirement — a problem that Fire Station No. 12 corrected.
The station, which was funded through $3.9 million in bond funds, sits on the south side of Interstate 635 just west of the Olympus Bridge. It will include 42 staff members to operate the station and a 100-foot tiller-ladder truck.
The new station is a three-company house and is one of the city’s largest fire stations both in the amount of equipment responding out of it and in scope.
A Joint Venture
Prior to the 2015 approval of the Irving/Grand Prairie Joint Fire Training Facility, the Irving Fire Department trained personnel at DFW Airport. The department would send emergency response staff for a week to two weeks of training once a year. Now, with the opening of the joint fire training facility housed in Irving, staff members will receive consistent, year-round training opportunities.
The joint training facility is a combined effort by the cities of Irving and Grand Prairie to train incoming and existing fire personnel on the numerous techniques involved in fire safety and rescue. This partnership allows both cities’ firefighters to benefit from state-of-the-art fire and rescue training.
The features include a fire training “burn” tower, with five different elevated levels mirroring a residential home, a multistory apartment complex and a high-rise commercial office building or apartment tower. The burn tower also includes an elevator shaft, rappel panel and roof hatches to be used for a variety of training scenarios, and three separate rooms, each equipped with propane-fueled live fire training.
The facility houses a 4,000-square-foot building featuring a fully equipped classroom (with open-air capability) and cubicles for staff, restrooms, a kitchen and break room. Outside training simulators consist of trench rescue, confined space rescue, extrication and Class A live fire training areas.
Hitting the Mark
Public safety is the number one priority in the City of Irving. More than 99 percent of every dollar collected in property taxes pays for public safety. The city’s bustling economic development is heavily reliant on the city’s public safety investment.
“This is what we consider to be another phenomenal tool in Irving’s tool belt,” said Irving City Manager Chris Hillman. “The designation will serve as an opportunity for our Economic Development Department and Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce to work with our corporate partners, bring in new business and further maintain Irving’s competitive tax base.”