Town receives improved ISO rating

Published 6:30 pm Friday, August 22, 2014

Property owners in the city limits of Maplesville should reap the benefits of a lower ISO rating the town’s fire department received recently.

Based on an inspection the Insurance Services Office conducted this summer, the department improved from a rating of 6 to 5.

On the current grading scale, 1 signifies the best coverage.

Insurance companies use fire departments’ ISO ratings to set homeowners’ insurance premiums.

“It will benefit all of the homeowners in town and business owners,” Mayor W.C. Hayes Jr. said. “It lowers the interest rate on their insurance on their buildings. I don’t know how much it will save them, but it should save them a couple hundred dollars.”

Maplesville’s new rating, or Public Protection Classification, is 5/5X. The rating of 5 refers to coverage the department provides for residents within 1,000 feet of a fire hydrant in the city limits, and 5X refers to coverage of residents in town jurisdiction but outside city limits.

Hayes said Maplesville has about 57 fire hydrants in city limits.

“It’s a volunteer fire department, and to have a 5 is pretty good,” Hayes said. “I think it’s great.”

The town’s previous rating of 6/9 was given in the mid-2000s, before ISO revised the classifications.

In a letter confirming the town’s new rating this year, ISO said the revised classifications would “improve the predictive value for insurers while benefiting both commercial and residential property owners.”

“Through ongoing research and loss experience analysis, we identified additional differentiation in fire loss experience within our PPC program, which resulted in the revised classifications,” the letter said. “We based the differing fire loss experience on the fire suppression capabilities of each community.”

The new classifications are X and Y, which were the 9 and 8B portion of the split classification, respectively.

Communities like Maplesville formerly graded as split 6/9 classifications are now split 6/6X classifications, with the 6X denoting what used to be classified as 9.

Fire Chief Mike Drewry told the council about the new rating at the Aug. 11 council meeting.

“I would like to thank everybody in the fire department for all the work they put forth to make it happen, because it took a lot of work,” Drewry said.

The department currently has about 22 people on its roster.

Assistant Fire Chief Kenny Barrett said most of the department’s volunteers tried to come to the department during the ISO audit to be involved in the process.

“Everybody’s showing interest,” Barrett said.

Barrett said the department underwent a hydrant inspection, flow tests on water, equipment checks on the trucks, training and certification checks and fire plan checks.

Barrett said a greater focus on training all department volunteers contributed to the lower rating.

“Our training has gotten a lot better over the past year,” Barrett said. “We’ve gotten to where we can do mouth-to-mouth resuscitations. For us to be a 100-percent volunteer fire department, I can’t really complain about the coverage we do give.”

Hayes said the department’s up-to-date record keeping also could have contributed to the improved rating.

“They kept their records like they’re supposed to,” Hayes said. “It’s just doing what you’re supposed to do and doing it right, and you’ll get it lower.”

Barrett and Hayes commended department volunteers as well as town and county officials for their involvement in the department’s audit and efforts to improve the ISO rating.

Among those involved in the audit were Doug Bice, general manager at Chilton Water Authority; Mike Drewry, chief of the Maplesville Fire Department; Ron Gatlin, superintendent of the Maplesville Utilities Board; and Donald Davis, chief of the South Chilton Volunteer Fire Department.

“It took everybody doing it, not one person,” Barrett said. “Hopefully, we will continue to get better each year.”