Union Fire Chief Russ Hamilton said he is very pleased with the change in the ISO rating for many residents in the district.
The ISO (Insurance Standard Organization) 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 goes into affect Jan. 1, 2014.
“Even though lower insurance premiums are a great benefit of an improved rating, I am more pleased with the improvements the three organizations have made to provide our community enhanced protection,” said Hamilton.
ISO ratings are evaluated every 10 or 12 years. The ISO is a combination of factors that determine how quickly a fire can be suppressed in a particular area.
The rating is critical to every community because it is one of the primary elements used by the insurance industry to determine insurance rates at businesses and homes. If a city has a poor ISO rating, the residents in that city pay more for insurance.
The organization surveys emergency dispatching, the fire protection district and the water supply system in an area.
Those factors are assigned point values and then combined for a total of 100 points. The dispatching makes up 10 points, fire district 50 point and water supply 40 points.
The total points, within the city limits, increased by 11.66 points from 2004 to 2013. The fire district score increased from 29.03 to 33.19 during that time period. The water supply increased from 17.89 to 24.43. The dispatching score decreased from 8.05 to 7.4.
“For us to have improved by 11, I’m really pleased with that,” Hamilton said.
A calculation is used to assign an ISO rating. Areas that receive points ranging from 60-6.99 points receive a 4 ISO rating.
One factor in determining ISO ratings is the proximity to fire hydrants, and a fire house.
Properties outside the city limits, but within five “wheel miles” of a fire station and 1,000 feet of fire hydrants will also be considered a Class 4. Other properties will retain the Class 5 rating.
There are also some residences in the Union Fire Protection District that have an ISO rating of higher than 5.
Hamilton said there were several elements that led to the improved fire district score, including its “ladder service.”
He explained that the ISO surveyor considers several factors when awarding scores, such as the type of equipment carried on each of the district’s vehicles.
“They are all designed so when the apparatus arrives on the scene, it has the proper equipment to function,” he said.
The district now carries all of the required equipment on its vehicles, which improved its ISO score.
A major change from 2004 to today is the number of paid firefighters employed by the district.
Now there is a full-time staff 24/7. In 2004, there were no paid firefighters in the district.