Putting a price on public protection
Houston County Courier
By Lynda Jones
In a slow economy and with a tight budget, what should the City of Crockett spend on protecting its citizens and businesses from fires? This is an issue the Crockett City Council is addressing. Crockett Fire Chief John Angerstein presented a report concerning the city's ISO (Insurance Services Office, Inc.) rating to the Crockett City Council Monday, March 4. The report was the result of a fire suppression survey for areas afforded fire hydrant protection, completed by an independent contractor hired by the city, Mike Pietsch, P. E. Consulting Services, Inc., a company based in Garland. In his report, Pietsch wrote, "To help establish appropriate fire insurance premiums for residential and commercial properties, insurance companies need reliable, up-to-date information about a municipality's fire protection services, (The ISO) is the principal (and most precise) provider of this information through the Public Protection Classification (PPC) program." According to Pietsch's report, "By classifying a community's ability to extinguish or control a structural fire, ISO assists communities in evaluating their public fire protection infrastructure. "The program provides an objective, countrywide standard that assists communities in planning and budgeting for facilities, equipment and training. By securing lower fire insurance premiums for communities with better public protection, the PPC program provides incentives and rewards for communities that choose to improve their firefighting services." Angerstein has previously discussed the city's ISO rating with the council and expressed a desire to make changes in order to improve Crockett's rating in the interest of both public safety and lower fire insurance premiums for the Crockett community. Crockett currently has an ISO PPC rating of Class 6 (Class 1 represents the best public protection and Class10 indicates less than the minimum recognized protection). Angerstein told the city council that to improve Crockett's rating to a Class 4 mostly would entail paperwork and some changes to the department's housekeeping policies. This would be the least expensive of the options, he said. Some corrective actions to improve the city's ISO PPC rating further would be more costly, such as the purchase of a second engine company, specific to the City of Crockett (Angerstein gave a rough estimate of $475,000 for another engine truck); a fully compliant training facility and improved water supply infrastructure, especially in the downtown area. Pietsch suggested, "The City of Crockett is to be commended for providing the Crockett Fire Department with a fully equipped aerial ladder truck company (75-foot minimum height of aerial device). . . . To receive a significant amount of ISO rate credit this apparatus must be deployed as a ladder truck company; not an engine/ladder ('Quint') truck company. "It is for this reason a second engine company, specific to the City of Crockett, should be provided for the Crockett Fire Department. "To maximize all available ISO credits this second engine should be equipped with a compressed air form unit (CAFS)." Regarding a training facility, Pietsch stated, "The Crockett Fire Department does not have access to a fully ISO compliant training facility within a reasonable driving distance of the City of Crockett (10 miles or less). "A fully compliant training facility consists of a four-story drill tower, a fire building and a flammable liquids pit. (Videos of flammable liquids extinguishment are fully creditabnle in lieu of a flammable liquids pit). This facility must be on at least a 2-acre site." While discussing this item, Angerstein told the council the Crockett Fire Department currently is looking for an appropriate training site that would meet ISO requirements. Pietsch's report explains ISO training drill requirements, and notes the CFD currently does nto perform training field evolutions due to the distance the CFD must travel to utilize a fully ISO creditable training facility. The report does note that the CFD receives additional credits by allowing a percentage of their firfighters to attend the annual weeklong Fireman's Training School each year. Pietsch noted, "Attendance at Fireman's Training School is a very important tool in improving the ISO rating for the City of Crockett."