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The Lake News Online
  • Sunrise Beach FPD improves insurance rating

  • After a review last year by the Insurance Services Organization (ISO), the Sunrise Beach Fire Protection District recently received official notification that the department had improved its ISO rating throughout its service territory.
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    • By the numbers

      211 of 1,832 ISO-rated fire departments in Missouri are Class 5
      333 fire departments in Missouri have a higher rating than Class 5
      47 percent approximately of the cost of the 2013 levy...

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      By the numbers

      211 of 1,832 ISO-rated fire departments in Missouri are Class 5

      333 fire departments in Missouri have a higher rating than Class 5

      47 percent approximately of the cost of the 2013 levy increase could be saved by some residents with the improved rating

      12-14 months the district plans to seek another ISO evaluation to try to drop to Class 4 without a tax increase

  • After a review last year by the Insurance Services Organization (ISO), the Sunrise Beach Fire Protection District recently received official notification that the department had improved its ISO rating throughout its service territory.
    The rating has gone from a split Class 6 to a Class 5 for the entire district, but Chief Dennis Reilly says plans are already in the works to seek another review in hopes of improving the rating further.
    In this case, the split classification meant that the Class 6 rating only applied to homes within 1 1/2 miles of an SBFPD fire station or within 1,000 feet of a fire hydrant. The new classification applies to all district residents who live within five road miles of a station.
    Some insurance companies use the ISO rating in calculations for insurance premiums on homes and other buildings. For homeowners using these insurance companies, a rating improvement means savings which varies by insurance carrier and other factors of the individual structure. The new classification will be effective in October.
    The last time the district was reviewed was in 1998. On its own, ISO does evaluations approximately every 10 years, but departments can reach out and request a review to improve its rating sooner.
    The district plans to ask ISO evaluators back in 12-14 months to try to lower the rating to a Class 4.
    The difference in insurance costs would help offset and possibly provide net savings for some homeowners within the district following a 7 cent levy increase approved last year.
    Some of the areas of improvement in the 2013 review included engine companies, reserve engine companies, training, distribution of resources, water system, hydrants and hydrant inspections.
    Several of the improvements the department has made recently, however, were not included in the ISO field review in October 2013, says Reilly, such as the training points for the new Recruit Fire Academy. The pre-planning for commercial structures that the department has been working - which falls under training as well - also garnered few of the possible points because the database for all of them had not yet been established.
    Personnel points went down slightly due to a smaller volunteer firefighter roster than in 1998. The new staffing financed by last year's levy increase was not included in the evaluation as the new revenue and hires had not yet occurred.
    Since the ISO evaluation, the department is also taking steps to better utilize tracking software to make sure it is hitting the training and community risk reduction goals set by ISO.
    A category outside the department's hands - communications - should see major improvement soon with Camden County Dispatch now in the process of updating to the enhanced 911 system.
    About ISO ratings
    In its Public Protection Classification Service, ISO collects data from fire departments and rates them based on standards set in its Fire Suppression Rating Schedule.
    Page 2 of 2 - Ratings are assigned on a scale of 1 to 10 with a lower number being better and 10 representing no recognized fire protection.
    Focus for some fire departments, including the SBFPD, has shifted of late away from ISO ratings as it appears less underwriters are using the evaluation - instead going with other calculations to determine fire risk.
    But, says Reilly, with some insurance companies still using ISO, they will continue to try to get the best possible rating within cost effective means that also fit within the department's long range plans to continue to improve service.
    While another fire house with additional apparatus might serve to boost its score with ISO by putting more houses within closer range of a station, the fire house would not be staffed and would likely see little activity. Its mere presence is what ISO is concerned with, says Reilly.
    He has shifted the focus of the department instead to more staffing and training as part of its efforts for better service overall. In the next few years, the department would like to be able to man a second station around the clock to improve as a more effective plan to do that through faster response times.

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