Plattsburg Fire Protection District Receives
New ISO Rating
Beginning January 1, homeowners in Plattsburg and the immediate surrounding area may, depending on their insurance provider, see a reduction in their homeowner’s insurance premium at the next renewal as a result of a lower Insurance Services Office (ISO) Public Protection Class (PPC) Rating. The ISO is the principle provider of insurance underwriting, rating, and statistical information to the insurance industry and helps insurance companies establish fair property insurance premiums based on a communities investment in fire mitigation.
The previous ISO review for Plattsburg was conducted in 1994. At that time Plattsburg received a PPC rating of 7. PPC ratings range from 1 – the best in fire mitigation potential to 10 – an unprotected area. As a result of the 2013 ISO PPC rating review, Plattsburg is now a PPC 6 according to Fire Chief Brad Lawrence. The PPC rating evaluates how the fire department is notified of emergencies (10 pts), the fire department (50 pts), and the water supply (40 pts). In 2007 the need for major improvements in fire suppression apparatus and equipment was identified. Apparatus and equipment account for approximately 44% of the total Fire Department credit. Voters were asked for, and approved, a tax levy dedicated to long-term apparatus and equipment investments.
In 1994, the fire department only achieved 38.2% of the ISO points associated with apparatus and equipment. With the 2007 tax levy request monies and prudent apparatus and equipment purchases, 88.5% of the total points associated with apparatus and equipment were achieved in the latest PPC rating. This accounted for the majority of the PPC improvement. Two major PPC improvement areas still needed include increased firefighter staffing and water supply. Of a total of 100 PPC points, 15 points are associated with the number of firefighters on the initial response to a fire. For a paid department, 1 firefighter on duty 24-h per day is one point. For a volunteer department, that same firefighter is only credited at 0.33 points. Being a small community, finding enough community members with the time it takes to be committed to being a firefighter today is challenging.
We realize that finding the time to be a firefighter, on top of work and family demands is tough, but we really need some additional, dedicated, community members willing to become a part of the department and contribute to the safety and property conservation of the community stated Chief Lawrence. Because of declining interest by community members, the department began a new program in 2012 where firefighters from outside the community dedicate 24-h per month to staff the station. However, to meet the staffing and personnel challenges of the future given our response to over 500 dispatches each year is going to take some non-traditional approaches, including the need to hire part-time firefighters over the next few years states Chief Lawrence.
Water supply is the other major area identified that could further improve the PPC rating. Water supply is evaluated based on the ability of the fire department to get water out of the municipal distribution system or through hauling water to the fire. We have made some improvements to our hauled water capability with the purchase of the new pumper-tanker in 2010 Chief Lawrence stated. We will continue with the pumper-tanker model in the future given the amount of rural area in our district and the distance mutual aid and automatic aid companies have to cover to get to the scene. Due to the size and age of many of the water lines in the area north of Clay Ave and east of Birch St, as well as the size and type of fire hydrants in this area, opportunities exist to further improve fire suppression efforts as well as the PPC rating as improvements to the water infrastructure in these areas occur. With improvements to the water infrastructure in this older area of town, an ISO rating of 5 could potentially be achieved based on comparisons with other local communities.
The PPC rating is a reflection of the fire suppression capabilities in the community. A lower PPC rating is a reflection of a safer community. Thanks to the efforts of the Plattsburg City Council, several options are actively being discussed that could lead to dramatic long-term improvements in water flow and pressure in the municipal system. The amount of water we need to be able to deliver from the municipal water system is determined by the National Fire Flow Formula for properties we have here in Plattsburg.
Our water flow requirement for maximum water supply points is 2,250 gallons per minute at a sufficient pressure stated Chief Lawrence. This is a significant amount of water that a 4” water line installed decades ago just simply cannot provide. To further improve community fire mitigation, long-term strategic planning by the Plattsburg Fire Protection District includes plans for adding and staffing fire stations in the areas beyond 5 miles from the Bush St fire station. Currently these area are considered PPC 10 areas, or unprotected. This means property owners in these areas pay substantially higher property insurance rates than similar properties in Plattsburg if their insurance company uses the ISO PPC rating to set insurance premiums. Additional strategically placed fire stations could lower ISO ratings in these rural areas from a 10 to perhaps an 8, improve response times, and decrease property loss Chief Lawrence stated, pointing out the importance of additional fire stations in the 112 square mile Fire District.