Westside Eagle-Observer - - OPINION -


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 bobtharp@gmail.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

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