While we were all sleeping, the Anniston Fire Department was working diligently to make that sleep even sweeter. Representatives from ISO for Public Protection Classification (PPC™) recently visited the City’s fire department, and after rigorous review, upgraded Anniston’s fire safety rating significantly. The new rating means good news for Anniston as property owners benefit from lower insurance premiums and economic developers eye the area with a new appreciation for fire safety.
It’s a complicated process, but Anniston’s fire personnel were ready (inherent in their line of work). ISO reviews the fire department every five years, holding it to nation-wide standards that have been developed and honed through years of experience and technological advances. For a city to move from one level to the next reflects a significant emphasis on that fire department’s efforts to affect fire safety. ISO assigns points in four different areas, from fire department personnel to inspection and reporting practices to communication methods.
The Anniston Fire Department has held a 3 rating for the past 5 years (scale of 1 to 10). The new rating of 2 places it in the among Alabama’s highest-rated cities, with the median rating being 5. The new rating could not only mean lower insurance premiums for property owners, it could also attract economic development from businesses that are considering places to locate.
There were several factors that contributed to the improved rating including the relocation of Station 3. Originally located on McClellan, relocating the station to its new location on Highway 21, near more concentrated residential areas, resulted in residents’ insurance premiums decreased by one-third. Overall, moving from a rating of 3 to 2 can save a homeowner $100 to $200 per year.
Additional improvements included upgrades to fire department vehicles with mobile data terminals (MDT) and increased training hours for personnel. Although not yet available on all vehicles due to cost, state-of-the art MDT technology outfits fire engines and associated vehicles with up-to-the-minute information on communications, GPS mapping and pre-fire plans.
“Assuming all other factors are equal, the price of property insurance in a community with a good PPC is lower than in a community with a poor PPC.” -ISO
Anniston City Fire Marshall Jeff Waldrop explained that, although the fire department maintains a tight ship, the ISO project required that everyone “hit it a little harder.” Waldrep said, “It was a department-wide effort to get where we are today; it took everybody.” Fire department personnel began preparing for the inspection last August. ISO field inspectors visited the department in January and issued their rating last week.
“A community’s investment in fire mitigation is a proven and reliable predicator of future fire losses.” -ISO
Although it’s the Anniston Fire Department that ultimately receives the PPC rating, the ISO inspection required close collaboration with the Anniston Water Works and Sewer Board as well as the with the Calhoun County 911. These partners ensure that Anniston’s firefighters are able to accomplish their jobs, providing adequate water supply and effective emergency communication systems (respectively). Waldrep says Anniston is fortunate to have a good water supply, and this fact helped their score.
After completing the field survey, ISO analyzes the data and calculates a rating, which undergoes a quality review. The community under review will receive a notification letter identifying the new PPC rating. Anniston has received this letter. ISO also provides a hydrant-flow summary sheet, along with a PPC Summary Report, which explains each subcategory and indicates the total points the community earned. If points are deducted, the report also indicates what is needed to receive full credit for each specific section.
Waldrep said the Department will continue to refine operations over the next three years in pursuit of a rating of 1. Until then, the Department will continue to do what they’ve always done: deliver Anniston’s finest in emergency situations!
“Statistical data on insurance losses bears out the relationship between excellent fire protection — as measured by the PPC program — and low fire losses. PPC helps communities prepare to fight fires effectively.” -ISO
Sources: ISO Mitigation, City of Anniston Fire Department.
For more information, contact Anniston Fire Department Fire Marshall Jeff Waldrep at (256) 231-7650.