Fire department receives lower ISO rating

FLINT TWP. — The township Public Protection Classification of 5 for fire protection, effective May 1, is a slight downgrade from the previous rating of 4, according to the Insurance Services Office (ISO), which analyzes several aspects of fire protection services and assigns a rating of 1 to 10 based on its findings. A rating of one is top notch.

The township board did not publicly discuss the rating which was included in the information packet for the Feb. 5 board meeting. Supervisor Karyn Miller deferred a media request for comment to the fire chief.

Fire Chief Thomas Stadler acknowledged that “the classification is not as good as previous, however is not bad.”

The ISO Rating is determined by 10% Communications/Dispatch (County System), 40% Water Capabilities (County System), and 50% Fire Department Structure and Operations.

Data for the previous 4 rating was obtained in 1998. The fire department has undergone many changes since that time, Stadler said.

“The main factors are reduced staffing, and we no longer have an Aerial Ladder Truck,” he said. “We will continue to work on improved staffing levels for our Fire Department. We will also continue to evaluate our department training and refine our focus. Our apparatus needs are an area that we are continually evaluating as well. We strive to be the best Fire Department that we can be, and provide the best possible service to our community. We do this all, while maintaining close adherence to our operating budget.”

Stadler also noted that the ISO Rating is derived from a very complex process and its impact can be difficult to assess.

The ISO rating may be used by some insurance companies in determining coverage and costs but not all of them do, he said.

According to a letter from the ISO to township supervisor Karyn Miller, the ISO Public Protection Classification Program plays an important role in the underwriting process at most U.S. insurance companies, including the largest ones, in deciding coverages and prices offered for personal and commercial property insurance.

“The way an insurer uses ISO’s information on public fire protection may depend on several things – the company’s fire-loss experience, ratemaking methodology, underwriting guidelines and its marketing strategy,” according to the ISO letter to Miller.

For example, a property located more than five road miles from a fire station would be received a 10 classification, the letter stated.

Communities with improved PPC ratings may get lower insurances prices, the letter stated. The PPC also serves as a benchmark for fire departments, providing valuable information that may be used when planning, budgeting and justifying fire protection improvements.

An updated ISO survey can be requested if fire department resources change. Copies of the ISO letter also were sent to Genesee County 911 and the county Drain Commission.

In the township’s ISO PPC survey, it earned 8.34 of 10 available credits for emergency communications; 17.68 credits of 50 available for the fire department assessment and 31.89 of 40 credits available for the water supply assessment, and 3.38 credits of 5.50 for community risk reduction. In total, the department earned 62.42 of 105.50 possible credits.

As Stadler noted, the department lost credits for not having a ladder truck – earning 0.53 of 4 available credits. It also received a 1.53 credit of 10 available for personnel. Staffing, as Stadler also noted, has been an ongoing issue for the department. The department earned 2.00 of 9 credits assigned for training and full credit for pumper capacity and other operational considerations.

Copies of the full ISO report are available on the township website at in the minutes from the Feb. 5 meeting.

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