By Dawn Hensil
Following hard work by a small group, the Shinnston Volunteer Fire Department has an achievement to celebrate. Verisk’s ISO Public Protection Classification program recently awarded Shinnston a Class 3 rating.
The rating is big news and the first time in approximately twenty years the department has achieved a Class 3 rating, according to Fire Chief Dylan Oliveto. The new class 3 rating is good news for the community served by the fire department, according to Oliveto.
He said the rating is the result of lots of work by its members.
“We are one of only a very small number of volunteer departments that make the class rating of 3,” he added.
ISO, a division of the company Verisk, provides advisory services and information to many insurance companies, according to its website.
In an email, Ali Krueger, a spokesperson for Verisk, said the ISO Public Protection Classification program helps insurance companies evaluate a community’s fire suppression capabilities, including water supply and water system maintenance; emergency communications, including technology and staffing; and fire department preparedness.
Fire department preparedness consists of: “adequacy of equipment, sufficient staffing, evaluation of training, existence of automatic aid, and geographic distribution of fire companies,” she said.
“PPC grades the community on its ability to respond to and suppress individual structure fires and assigns an advisory number from 1 to 10,” Krueger wrote. “Class 1 generally represents exemplary fire protection and Class 10 indicates that the community’s fire suppression program does not meet our minimum criteria.”
Oliveto said the rating could improve local insurance rates, although Krueger noted that insurers are still in charge of establishing their own pricing.
“Since ISO is an insurance advisory organization providing insurers with a variety of underwriting and rating services, we are not in a position to comment on how a classification change will affect local property insurance premiums,” she said.
“However, in general terms, for insurers using the ISO PPC information, an improved protection class can lead to lower premiums – all other factors remaining equal,” she added.
Krueger said ISO recommends that individual property owners consult with their insurance agent or representative if they’re interested in whether the rating will change pricing.
Of 39,200 communities evaluated as of Dec. 29, 3,663 had achieved a Class 3 rank, she said. Just 2,200 communities had received higher – Class 1 or 2 – ratings. ISO requests updated information from communities to adjust their ratings at least every 24 months.
Oliveto said the score is evidence the fire department is better prepared to respond to calls. In preparation for the inspection, the department consistently makes sure the trucks, breathing apparatuses, and other gear are in good working condition, he said. Fire hydrants were flushed and tested yearly as well. Accurate record keeping is also a must for a good rating.
“This is a very proud moment for us,” Oliveto said. “We are fortunate to have such a great group of volunteers.”
The fire department also recently received a perfect score on their inspection by the State Fire Marshal’s Office, according to Oliveto.
He said they are always looking for new members. If you or someone you know is interested in volunteering, he said to come by the department, where they can answer any questions.
Erin Beck contributed reporting.