The fire protection services of DeKalb County Fire Department’s entire service area, as evaluated and rated by Insurance Services Office, Inc. (ISO), will improve to a Property Protection Classification (PPC) 6 effective September 1, 2016. This PPC 6 rating will apply to all properties located within 5 miles of any one of the eleven DeKalb County Fire Department stations, regardless of distance to a hydrant or credited alternative water supply. Areas beyond 5 road miles from one of the recognized stations will continue to be rated as PPC 10.
Under the previous rating, properties had to be located within 1,000 feet of a fire hydrant or credited alternative water supply to receive the PPC 6 rating. With this new rating, the 1,000 feet requirement will no longer apply effective September 1, 2016 for properties in DeKalb County Fire Department’s jurisdiction located within 5 road miles of a fire station.
In March 2016, the department was evaluated for its capabilities to supply water using the “hauling water” method. “In order to meet ISO water supply requirements using this method, we had to demonstrate that we could supply a minimum of 250 gallons of water per minute for 2 hours to all areas in the county-wide jurisdiction (264 square miles),” said Chief Donny Green. On May 31, 2016, County Mayor Tim Stribling and Chief Donny Green received official notification from ISO that the department was successful in meeting and exceeding all the requirements to be graded a county wide PPC 6, based on its proven capabilities to supply water in areas of the county where hydrants are sparse.
In addition to water supply, other criteria had to be met to achieve this rating. The Fire Department had to meet the following: 1) have a 24-hour central dispatch for contacting all firefighters on duty via pagers, 2) must have a fully equipped reserve apparatus, 3) annual tests must be conducted on pumper trucks, hoses, and hydrants, 4) a minimum number of firefighters must be active in the department and respond to alarms, 5) firefighter training and documentation must greatly exceed minimum standards, 6) the department must have a definitive and reliable water supply with adequate water tankers, 7) must train on rural water supplies, 8) must provide documentation of actual fires which hauled water was utilized and successful, and 9) must have pumper capacities to suppress a fire in any building in the community. This improvement will save affected residents in these areas an estimated $200 annually (based on coverage of a home valued at $100,000) on their homeowner’s insurance premiums. This rating does not affect the current ratings for residents in the cities of Smithville and Alexandria.
DeKalb County Mayor Tim Stribling says, “I am tremendously proud of our fire department, water system, and 911 Center. The fire department, as evident by this evaluation, has worked extremely hard to improve the PPC rating for more and more of our citizens across the rural areas of our county. The financial impact of this new rating is very important, but just as important is the fact that our communities are safer and better protected by the level of service DeKalb County Fire Department is providing, using an all-volunteer staff. Residents and property owners of DeKalb County should know that their investment spent to provide rural fire protection is getting results. The hard work put forth by our fire department and supporting partners has resulted in this improved rating that positively affects so many of our citizens, especially those living on fixed incomes.”
DeKalb County Fire Chief Donny Green pointed out that this rating improvement was no small task. “I want to personally recognize our department’s officers and members who made enormous time sacrifices to make this happen. In addition, it took the support and assistance from the water utility districts that serve DeKalb County, the DeKalb County 911 Emergency Communications District, Mayor Tim Stribling, and the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners. Our ability to improve our PPC classification and help lower insurance premiums for our citizens is a result of team work from an awesome group of men and women who volunteer to step up to a huge commitment, increased training activities, updated equipment, the DeKalb 911 Emergency Communication District’s efficiency in receiving and handling fire alarms, and the ability of our water systems to deliver sufficient water flows.” ISO collects information on municipal fire-protection efforts in communities throughout the United States. In each of those communities, ISO analyzes the relevant data using its Fire Suppression Rating Schedule (FSRS). The company then assigns a Public Protection Classification from 1 to 10. Class 1 generally represents superior property fire protection, and Class 10 indicates that the area's fire-suppression program doesn't meet ISO's minimum criteria.
ISO will advise its subscribing insurers of this classification change. The rating becomes effective September 1, 2016. DeKalb County homeowners should check with their insurance companies after that date to make sure these savings are applied.