Smith County Emergency Services District #2 is pleased to announce that the Insurance Service Office (ISO) has set new fire protection ratings for property owners in Smith County, effective August 1, 2015. These rating are used by many insurance companies to determine the rates homeowners pay for insurance for their home.
The ISO uses a uniform set of criteria defined in the Fire Suppression Rating Schedule to objectively review the fire suppression capabilities of a community and assigns a Public Protection Classification ranging from 1 to 10. Class 1 represents exemplary fire protection, and class 10 indicates that the area’s fire suppression program does not meet the recognized minimum criteria for fire suppression.
In 2008, ESD2 hired Mike Pietsch Consulting Services to review and make recommendations for upgrades to our fire protection for the 11 fire departments within the boundaries of ESD2. Over the past 7 years ESD2 has been working diligently to make improvements to our fire protection service which include but are not limited to training, manpower, equipment, equipment response to fires on initial alarm, etc. The implementation of these improvements has resulted in a substantial improvement in the PPC ratings for communities within the ESD2 district.
Each community now has 2 PPC ratings defining the level of fire protection available within the community. Below is a comparison of the 2009 rating and the current 2015 rating.
If a structure is within 1000’ of a fire hydrant and within five road miles of a fire station, the 2015 rating listed under “With Hydrant” column will be used to obtain the current PPC rating.
If a structure is outside of 1000’ of a fire hydrant but within five road miles of a fire station, the 2015 rating under the “No Hydrant” column will be used to obtain the current PPC rating.
For comparison, a 3 rating puts the owner in the top 3.5% nationwide for fire coverage. This demonstrates how the ESD has worked to improve services for ESD2 taxpayers.
When Emergency Services District #2 was formed in 2007, it identified the problem of high ISO ratings within the county. A “Box Alarm” policy was established, which increased the initial response to a structure fire from one department to three departments on the first alarm. This allowed the necessary resources to be on a scene faster and saved precious response time. The district also relocated some of the firefighting apparatus to different stations, and purchased other necessary apparatus, in order to fill in holes in the current coverage.
Beginning in October of 2013, 15 fire stations within the ESD2 service area were staffed with paid firefighters from 8-5, Monday thru Friday, providing coverage during periods when volunteers are often at their regular jobs. Having a paid staff available also allowed firefighters to inspect commercial properties, and to make plans on how to handle a fire should one occur. A “Water Shuttle” program was implemented, utilizing tankers to deliver large volumes of water to scenes where hydrants are not available or do not exist. The success of this program has had a huge impact on all areas of the county and has significantly contributed to the reduction of rates in the areas of the county not served by hydrants.
Property owners within ESD#2 receive a twofold benefit. First, the response time to incidents has been reduced, while the training, qualifications, and coverage by the firefighters has improved. Secondly, with the lowered ISO ratings, owners should see a reduction in their fire insurance premiums paid to their carriers.
Smith County Emergency Services District #2 continues to work hard to bring safety and savings to the residents of Smith County.
Smith County ESD2 is in the proccess of maping all hydrants in ESD2 served areas of Smith County. You can view the hydrants in a map by clicking here.
Larger cities such as Dallas or Austin, which tend to have the best fire protection, generally are rated 1 or 2. A few are rated 3. Small towns tend to cluster in the 4-to-7 range. A number of previously un-inspected areas that returned ISO questionnaires about their fire fighting capabilities are rated 7 or 9.
Under the ISO program, called the Fire Suppression Rating Schedule, communities can score between1 and 10, with Class 1 being the most exemplary and Class 10 being the least. Historically, residential communities with the worst ISO ratings have had fire losses that were more than twice the amount of losses in communities with the best ratings, according to studies conducted by ISO.
For an insurance company knowing the capabilities of a fire department is important. The better the fire department, the better protected a building is from fire damage and loss. The higher the level of protection, the less likely an insurance company will have to reimburse a claim for fire damage. The fewer number of claims, the lower the cost for the insurance provider. Of course fire protection can work the opposite way. A sub-par fire department will experience more fire losses. More fire losses means more insurance claims filed. In order to make costs meet, the insurance companies raise the premiums you pay.