Cairo Fire Chief
Both the City of Cairo and Grady County Volunteer fire departments join Whigham in celebrating improved ISO fire ratings following new findings by the company that issues the classifications.
The ISO for Cairo improved from a Class 3 to a Class 2 rating, a classification shared by only 1,597 other fire departments in the nation, according to Bill Schafer, chief of the Cairo Fire Department.
Class 1 is the best ranking any fire department can earn. Chief Schafer said the better rating is good news for property owners in Cairo. “The improved ISO rating could lower the insurance rates for home and business owners within the city limits,” Schafer said.
The ISO for the county improved from a 6 to a 5/5X, according to Richard Phillips, chief of the Grady County Volunteer Fire Department. The split rating, said Chief Phillips, means any property located within 1,000 feet of a certified dry hydrant and within five miles of a fire station has an ISO Classification of 5. If a property is not within 1,000 feet of a dry hydrant, but is at least within five miles of a fire station, its new classification will be 5X.
“We’re going to keep eating away at it a little at a time to get as much as we can get,” said Chief Phillips. “We did get a little improvement.”
Unfortunately, there are still county properties outside a five mile radius of a fire station that have an ISO rating of 10, Phillips says.
In June, the City of Whigham Fire Department learned that its classification had improved from a 5 to a 4.
The Insurance Services Office [ISO] of Commercial Risk Services measures and grades city services on a three to five year cycle, according to Chief Schafer. “ISO’s Public Protection Program (PPC) is the leading supplier of data and analytics for the property/casualty insurance industry. A community’s investment in fire mitigation is a proven and reliable predictor of future fires losses. Insurance companies use PPC information for marketing, underwriting and to help establish fair premiums for homeowners and commercial fire insurance,” Chief Schafer said.
Information used to determine ISO classification includes fire department staffing levels and training, water supply, 911 communications systems, and community outreach/education.
Chief Schafer said when he was named fire chief in 2014, he worked to determine ways to improve Cairo’s ISO. “I noticed right away there were several areas in training we could improve to gain a lot of points. We also needed a new fire engine, a service truck and several other pieces of equipment. I’m very thankful the city manager, mayor and council supported this because some of the things we needed were very expensive. The ISO rating is also based off the city’s water department, code enforcement, and 911 center. We are very pleased with our new rating and glad that our fire suppression services can possibly save our residents and businesses money in regard to their fire insurance costs,” he said.
Chief Phillips said he is hoping a “water shuttle” test this fall will help improve classification for property now classified as 5X. “If we show we can supply the water, we should get an improvement on the 5X,” Phillips said. As long as the volunteer firefighters show they can produce 250 gallons of water per minute uninterrupted for two hours, the 5X classification will improve somewhat, he said.
Both classifications will go into effect later this fall.