LETTER TO THE EDITOR
This is a republication from an earlier submission in March 2018. I have heard two questions recently. One was how the ISO came into being; and the answer is that we requested the audit, responded to improvement opportunities in our system and made significant accomplishments, which lowered the rate. The second deals with the issue of being more than 5 miles away from a fire department and the ISO rating potentially going up by a point. This was driven by new ISO regulations and not as the result of our work at the city level.
The current in-town ISO rating is 7 and the out-oftown ISO rating is 9. Effective April 1, the in-town rate was to drop to 6 and, if out-of-town residents live within 5 miles of a fire station, those rates will be lowered from 9 to 6 as well. If you live further than 5 miles from the fire station, your rates will go up to 10.
The Current ISO (Insurance Services Office) rating for Decatur has been the same for more than 25 years. Decatur Fire Department has now completed the first audit.
What did your city and Decatur Volunteer Fire Department do? Utilizing the Benton County Training association for training our Decatur Fire Department, training was provided. The city of Decatur scheduled and paid for outside companies to come in and do maintenance and testing of fire hydrants, fire apparatus and fire equipment. The city now has a preventative maintenance schedule implemented to maintain high-quality fire protection systems.
What do your city and volunteer fire department have in place currently? Decatur Fire Department is very fortunate to have the buildings, equipment and apparatus that many other departments in Arkansas don’t have. We have three fire engines (two city, one county), one engine/tender (from Benton County) which holds 3,000 gallons of water and a large amount of equipment, one tender (city) which holds 1,500 gallons of water and can also be used to fight brush fires, three brush trucks (two Arkansas Forestry, one county) and one light rescue truck that has the equipment to be used for motor vehicle accidents, medical calls, search and rescue calls and vehicle fires. Every firefighter is fitted for new gear after the first year on the department. All of our air packs have been purchased within the last five years and are in great condition.
What is planned for the future? We are already looking to the next ISO audit and have some goals we would like to reach before 2019 when that audit will take place. The next audit, it is hoped, will see the ISO rating lowered by an additional point.
My desire is to build a substation west of Decatur in the Arkansas 102 and Mt. Zion Road area to cover the residents who are more than five road miles from the current fire station, and the plan is to see our entire Decatur Fire Department District become lower than the 9 rating. We need no more than one acre to build the substation to cover Highway 102 west toward Oklahoma. The Highway 102 and Mt. Zion Road area is critical because that location provides what we need to accomplish this goal and will give coverage to the north, south and west. Anyone knowing of available property in this area is asked to call me at 479-752-3913 or email me at email@example.com. Donations to this public service goal would be appreciated.
The fire department continues to increase the number of firefighters that are sent to classes at local, state and national levels, so they are able to bring those skills back to the community. The county is also looking to upgrade the radio system, which will allow for better communication and is a big factor in ISO ratings.
The new ISO ratings that went into effect on April 1 are great news for all of us, but we as property owners must call our insurance agents reminding them of the change to enjoy the savings on our insurance premiums.
Bob Tharp Mayor, City of Decatur