Stewart County Fire Rescue
 

SCFR LOWERS ISO RATING TO A CLASS 5

     

Tuesday, March 22, 2016 DOVER, Tenn. — Some Stewart County residents, and even some Town of Dover residents, could see a reduction in their homeowner’s insurance premiums since the ISO classifications have been upgraded.
ISO, or the Insurance Services Office, helps communities establish appropriate fire insurance premiums for residential and commercial properties through its Public Protection Classification program.
Previously, the classification was 6 in the county and 5 within the city limits. County Fire Chief Clint Mathis said the classification is now 5 countywide for residents within five miles of one of the county’s nine fire stations, which is a typical criteria.
The classification remains 5 within the city, however, the qualifying distance of within 1,000 feet from a fire hydrant has also changed to five miles.
“We are known as a hauled-water (fire) service, so the distance from a hydrant doesn’t matter,” Mathis said. “So now it’s five miles from a fire station, regardless of where you live in the county. The change will affect some properties in the city.”
The new ratings will go into effect on June 1.Jim Myers, co-owner of Sills Insurance, said affected residents will likely see lower insurance premiums, but it is difficult to quantify how much because so many variables go into determining an insurance rate. The ISO rating is only one of several factors, he added.

"I can say that overall it will be better property insurance rates," Myers said. "We've had some pretty large increases in this area over the last three or four years. Hopefully, this will help offset those some."

He credited the fire service for its work to achieve the lower rating.

"They really do a great job for the county," Myers said. "In a lot of other counties, the rates are 8, 9 or 10, which is considerably more (for insurance costs). The credit needs to go to all the volunteers for the work they do."

In January 2015, the Town of Dover contracted with Stewart County Fire & Rescue to provide fire protection within the city limits. Fire & Rescue has uses of the city’s fire vehicles and equipment, but the Town of Dover retains ownership of the assets.
While adding firefighting equipment to the inventory was helpful, it was only one of various factors that were beneficial during last November’s ISO survey of the county’s firefighting capabilities.
There are a total of 235 fire hydrants across the county, and some of that number were added recently by the North Stewart Utility District along U.S. Highway 79, Mathis said.
“We also have 102 static water-filling locations across the county,” he said. “These consist of ponds, creeks and the lake. … Stewart County is blessed with plenty of water.”
The fire service also added a ladder truck to its fleet in February of 2015, and it is housed at the new North Stewart fire station, which are also factors considered by ISO since its last survey in 2002.
Mathis said the county also scored bonus points for its Community Risk Reduction, which includes a fire prevention program, fire code adoption within the city and fire investigation services provided by the Bomb and Arson section of the State Fire Marshal’s Office.
Additionally, Mathis said Fire & Rescue upgraded all of its radios to a digital system, which the ISO took into account.
He said the ISO is planning to perform new surveys every four years in the future.
“According to the report, we have room to improve,” Mathis said. “But we are all about improving our service to the community.”
He said they will work to maintain the current ratings and also hopes to improve them in the future.
One obstacle to further improving is the fact most of the volunteer firefighters are non-certified. Currently, Fire & Rescue has 80 volunteers on the roster, but ISO uses a method that effectively counts three volunteers as one professional firefighter.
“I don’t necessarily agree with it,” Mathis said. “The volunteers train hard and spend a lot of time training to be able to do the job.
“What they are looking at is that you don’t know when (volunteers) would be available, they aren’t saying they’re not capable of doing the job.”
He invited anyone interested in becoming a volunteer to check their webpage, www.scfr.org, which includes applications
"Our volunteers are the backbone of this department and this great rating is a testament to their dedication," said Mathis.