Cassville fire district works to improve ISO classification

Friday, November 28, 2008

Countless hours of hard work have paid off for the Cassville Fire Protection District. The district's ISO (Insurance Service Office) fire suppression ratings have improved, according to a press release that was issued by the district last Friday.

The district is now rated at a class 6 for the city and a class 7 for the rural portion of the district. This new rating represents a change in the rural rating from a 9 in 2005 when voters approved the formation of a tax-supported fire department to the present class 7 rating.

"It is a really big deal to drop two classifications like that," said Daron Evans, district administrator. "We do have plans over the next three to five years to drop the classifications even lower."

The process of lowering ISO classifications has taken district personnel a year to complete. According to Fire Chief Millard Andrews, several factors contributed to the improved rating.

"Since we went to a tax district, we've been able to add three tankers," said Andrews.

These additional tankers helped the district meet the criteria of a class 7 ISO rating that requires rural fire departments to be able to deliver water at the same rate as cities that have fire hydrants with 500-gallon-a-minute flow.

"We went through several timed demonstrations to prove this," said Andrews.

In addition, the district was able to improve its water shuttle capabilities and improve its access to water supply in cooperation with mutual aid agreements with Barry County fire departments.

Firefighter training is another factor that is considered during the ISO review process. According to Andrews, the Cassville Fire Protection District is served by 22 volunteer firefighters, and half of those firemen are state and nationally certified in Firefighter 1 and Firefighter II.

"This certification is a six month process that takes several nights a week and Saturdays," said Andrews.

Construction of the district's south substation at the intersection of Highways 112 and AA also helped lower the ISO rating by extending the district's service radius.

"In the future we're planning a north substation as soon as funds become available," said Andrews.

With a lowered ISO classification, homeowners living in the fire protection district should see a reduction in their insurance premiums. Rough estimates show that homeowners could see their premiums decrease by up to 25 percent.

Very few district patrons pay more than $100 a year in taxes to support the fire district. Lowered ISO ratings could offer district residents as much as $200 a year in savings off their current insurance premiums depending on type of policy and the value of an individual's home.

ISO reviews used to be required every 15 years, but now fire departments request ISO reviews if they think their classifications have improved.

The Cassville Fire Protection District is guided by a five-member Board of Directors. They include: Gary Fields, chairman; Don Bowen, vice chairman; and Mike Bailey, Carl Buchanan and Gary Davis, board members.

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