In 2013, the Union Fire Protection District reduced the ISO (Insurance Standard Organization) to many within the district, which was the final piece in a four-prong promise to patrons.
Fire Chief Russ Hamilton said district officials guaranteed to voters changes if a sales tax was approved in 2010. That included a change in the district’s ISO rating.
“It was truly our mission to fulfill those promises we made — the organization as a whole worked hard,” said Hamilton.
Prior to the sales tax passage, district officials said, along with the reduction of the ISO, that the district would be staffed by a paid crew 24/7; the district would improve fire safety by updating equipment and the property tax rates would be reduced.
ISO RatingThe ISO rating within the city limits has been reduced from a 5 to a 4. The rating for many residents outside of the city limits is a 5, but could be lower for residents in water districts.The Class 4 rating may translate into lower insurance premiums for property owners as insurance companies realize the lower the class number the better prepared the community is in suppressing fires. The new rating went into effect Jan. 1, 2014.
A one-half cent sales tax was approved by 62 percent of Union Fire District voters in April 2010.
“I took this promise very seriously from day one, and we all worked to accomplish it,” said Hamilton.
Officials said the funds collected from the tax would be used to hire a third crew.The district hired six new firefighters in 2011, which became part of teams that provide staffing to include weekends.
Paid firefighters were on duty only Monday through Friday before July 2011.Property TaxIn 2012, the fire district tax rate was rolled back 53 percent this year compared to the 2011 rate.
The district was required by state statute to roll back the rate by at least 50 percent.Under state law, a district is authorized to collect both the property and sales taxes the first year after a sales tax is passed to establish a “year’s experience” before rolling back the property tax.
The district put into service a 1998 Pierce ladder truck Dec. 31, which replaced a 1989 model. The 1998 Pierce ladder truck with a quantum chassis was purchased from the Kearney Fire and Rescue Protection District.
Hamilton added that the truck came at a discount compared to purchasing a new vehicle. The 1989 model was sold to the Appalachian Fire Department.Hamilton noted that the purchase of the truck is just one measure to improve safety for firefighters.
Outdated district equipment is often updated as needed.This year there are plans to replace a 1988 pumper truck.
“The 25-year-old truck is a challenge to maintain and keep in emergency response service,” Hamilton said. “The 1988 pumper truck is still in service today and has served the district well.”