City aces firefighting, water testRiver Falls recently received good news after a thorough once-per-decade inspection in June of its fire-fighting capability and water capacity: The Insurance Services Office rated the city excellent.
By: Debbie Griffin, River Falls Journal
River Falls recently received good news after a thorough once-per-decade inspection in June of its fire-fighting capability and water capacity: The Insurance Services Office rated the city excellent.
Insurance companies commonly use the ratings ISO assigns -- called public protection classification (PPC™) -- to calculate property-insurance costs. If the rating gets worse, insurance cost is likely to increase -- if the rating stays the same or gets better, insurance cost will remain the same or decrease.
River Falls Fire Chief Scott Nelson and City Administrator Scot Simpson passed along the results of ISO’s evaluation:
- ISO gave a rating of 3 to property within the city limits; scoring was better than 10 years ago but the cumulative rating remains the same.
- ISO determined that property within five road miles of the fire hall and within 1,000 feet of a hydrant or alternate water supply rates a 6; the last evaluation rated those at a 10.
- ISO established a rating of 10 for properties beyond five miles from the station, the same rating as the last evaluation. The 10 rating applied to the rural areas in River Falls’ coverage areas: Clifton, Pleasant Valley, River Falls, Kinnickinnic and Troy.
The numbers ISO determines are called the public protection class rating.
“A PPC rating of 3 is excellent, especially for a volunteer fire department. It shows the Fire Department has adequate personnel, equipment and training to provide a good level of service to the community of River Falls,” Nelson said about the rating. “It also recognizes the hard work of our water department, which maintains a good water supply system within our community. These two factors account for 90% of the total score. The County dispatch system makes up the remaining 10% of the score.”
Nelson confirms that low numbers indicate a good ISO rating. River Falls’ last one was in 1997.
He also said the rating decrease results mostly from a water-shuttling exercise completed for the ISO inspector that demonstrated the department’s responsiveness to the properties within five road miles of the city limit. Firefighters use water trucks, or tenders, to keep a constant supply of water coming.
The property owners going from an ISO rating of 10 to 6 may see their insurance rates decrease.
Nelson said the ISO inspector was in River Falls for a day. The department ran several drills and pulled many records for the inspector such as hose and ladder testing results, inventory lists, maps and training schedules.
He concedes the inspection was a bit stressful, but added he was confident, “We have good people, and the firefighters took it seriously.”
Nelson and Simpson explain in a press release that by classifying communities’ ability to suppress fires, ISO helps those communities evaluate their public fire-protection services. The program provides an objective, nationwide standard that helps fire departments plan and budget for facilities, equipment, and training and guides insurance companies in assessing risk.
“The rating places River Falls in the top 6% of cities in the state,” City Administrator Scot Simpson noted. “Only 30 Wisconsin communities out of 1,847 received a higher rating.”
Simpson emphasized at the Sept. 11 City Council meeting that credit for acing the test goes also to the water utility since water supply counts for 40% for the total classification.
To determine a community’s PPC™, the ISO uses a manual called the Fire Suppression Rating Schedule (FSRS). According to the manual, it objectively evaluates three major areas:
1) Fire alarm and communications includes handling and dispatch.
2) Fire department response and actions to minimize potential loss, as well review engine companies, ladder or service companies, fire stations, equipment, pumping capacity, reserve apparatus and department personnel and training.
3) Water supply including hydrant size, type, installation, condition and frequency of inspection.
The ISO keeps records on 47,000 fire-response jurisdictions. Its inspections not only help a community evaluate its fire-fighting capabilities, but also are an indicator of future fire losses and insurance premiums, plus they help officials budget and plan for improvements.
Learn more about the ISO at its web site: www.iso.com