In the winter of 2002-2003, our department chose to do massive amounts of paperwork; time; effort; testing; and other necessary work to try to have the I.S.O. (Insurance Services Office) come to our town to do a review. (Over 300 hours were spent on compiling this data alone - over and above fighting fires; training and other necessary fire department functions.)
The I.S.O. rating of a community has a direct effect on the insurance premiums that individuals pay on their homes and especially on commercial buildings. The lower the I.S.O. rating on a scale of 1 to 10, the better the insurance rates are (generally). The I.S.O. reviews 3 areas primarily - the Fire Department; the City water main & hydrant capabilities; and 9-1-1 dispatch & paging services. In 1995, a review was done and Fort Pierre improved to a class 6 rating from a class 8. In May of 2003, I.S.O. felt the need to do another review based on the information on improvements that we provided them. Such improvements were: changes to the service area; water system improvements; new equipment & trucks; more training and improved dispatch services. (another future station in town will only enhance the rating.) An agent from I.S.O. came to Fort Pierre on May 3, 2003 and started the review process. This took approximately 2 to 3 days to complete. He then went back to his office and compiled his data.
After approximately 5 months, a final report and decision was received from his office based on the information provided. The Fort Pierre Fire Department and the City of Fort Pierre are proud to advise its citizens, business owners and those that will potentially come in the future, that the new I.S.O. rating has gone to a Class 4 rating.
Based on information available from the I.S.O., there are only 10 communities in South Dakota that have a class 4 (with Fort Pierre being one of them) and four communities with a class 3 rating. We are proud to have accomplished the class 4 rating for you ~ our citizens & business people. (Note: the rating is only for whose within the city limits. Out of the city limits automatically goes up to about a class 8 or 9 - basically due to extended response times, lack of water supply, etc. For the most part, it cant get much better for a rating for those out of the city limits.)
Current citizens, commercial building owners and future prospects are asked that you visit with your current insurance providers. Make sure they are utilizing the Class 4 rating and not the Class 6 rating if you are located within the city limits of Fort Pierre. Your carriers may not automatically change this on your policy, which could reflect the amount of premiums that are paid. NOTE: Commercial buildings are most affected by the I.S.O. ratings. Family dwellings (homes) may not show nearly as much savings as would commercial buildings. Also understand that some insurance carriers may not necessarily completely follow the I.S.O. ratings for calculating premiums.
(Note: I.S.O. "normally" only reviews communities every 10 to 15 years unless the annual survey information (improvements) they receive merits a review sooner.)
Just some of the items that I.S.O. reviews are: Dispatch - 10% of the overall rating: number of 9-1-1 operators working on duty; number of 9-1-1 phone lines coming in; and area covered by dispatch. Fire Department-50% of the overall rating: Pumping capabilities; aerial ladder capabilities; hours of training provided and attended by members; response by members per call; commercial fire pre-planning; number of fire stations for the community boundary served; hose and pump testing; and more. City-40% of the overall rating: Available water storage capacity; water main and fire hydrant size throughout town; hydrant testing and more.
So, if you ever wonder why the fire department needs another truck or station or if you see them out doing so much training or whatever.......its not only to serve the needs of the public, but it is also to help make the town ISO rating just that much better.
If you would like to know more about this topic, please contact Fire Chief Rick Cronin at firstname.lastname@example.org . Rick has done extensive legwork on this issue and has extensive knowledge of the ISO proceedures and process.