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Thursday, June 7, 2018

Fire Department Boosts Inspection Rating

The Fort Thomas Fire Department has earned a Class Two rating from the Insurance Services Office (ISO), a private corporation that evaluates industries for insurance rating purposes.

On a scale of one (highest) to 10 (lowest), Fort Thomas held a respectable Class Three rating for many years. After an intensive inspection last February, Fire Chief Mark Bailey announced that he just received the news of the upgrade this week.

"I am very proud tonight to tell council that effective September 2018, Fort Thomas is now a Class Two ISO-rated department," Bailey said at the June 1 meeting of City Council.

What the ISO looks for in inspections

"It’s a ten-year time frame so the last time was in 2008. What they do when they come is look at everything from personnel staffing to our equipment to our response times, both our individual response times as well as our mutual aid. They look at our water flow with the Northern Kentucky Water District. They look at our pre plans of our buildings and our businesses as well as our inspections," he explained.

On the site visit by the inspector, Bailey said he was encouraged that the department did well. "He had a lot of good comments. He said he looked at a lot of different facets about what this department does and how we operate. One thing he was very impressed with was our pre plans of our buildings. We’re now at 100 percent."

The ISO also looks at how the department coordinates with other fire companies, staffing requirements, response times and other aspects of fire service.

The chief said he felt the great job his staff has done with building inspections, and especially with preplanning, contributed to the classification increase. The development of pre plans has been a key interest for Bailey and his staff.

As the name suggests, pre plans involve gathering preincident information about a building. According to Fire Engineering magazine, pre plans "enhance firefighters’ tactical capabilities of anticipating fire behavior and water supply needs, preparing for search and rescue, meeting forcible entry challenges, placing hose and ladders, performing ventilation, containing the fire, and improving firefighter safety and survival."

What this can mean for the community

A high rating means a first-class fire service department on task to protect citizens’ property and lives, but it also carries an added benefit of the possibility of lowering insurance rates for property owners in the community. A higher rated department means lower fire losses and that can have a tangible effect on decisions by insurers when it comes to underwriting and pricing property insurance.

Council Member Roger Peterman noted the benefits of the new rating. "I think it’s important to make the public aware…Things like this are an investment but you get paid back for these, too."

He noted that putting money and effort into hiring top quality personnel, acquiring new equipment and projects like the planned upgrade of the 911 system are all sizeable investments in the community but the return can be significant.

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