Sept. 17--Mayes County Commissioners discussed local fire departments lowering their Insurance Services Office (ISO) ratings at the meeting Sept. 9.
"There have been six or seven departments that have lowered their rating so far; Pryor, Chimney Rock, Cabin Creek, Strang, Osage, Diamond Head and Adair makes seven," said Jason Miller, Firefighter Association Chairman.
Miller said the overall shift has been from a nine rating, on a scale of 10 to one, down to an 8B. Commissioner Alva Martin said it is difficult to go down to an eight rating in a rural area.
An ISO rating uses a number between one and 10 with 10 being the worst and one being the best. The rating is based on a number of different factors and can improve homeowner insurance rates.
"It's all about ISO-recognized water sources, which is difficult in rural areas," said Miller.
"I'm proud to see what they're doing. Its a good thing. It will help their constituents tremendously. My hat's off to them," said Commissioner Darrell Yoder.
"I appreciate everything you've done. Anything we can legally do to help with tanks we will," said Martin.
Miller said there are tremendous savings in stepping down from 10 to an eight or six.
Martin said he will look into purchasing fire hydrants with department money as there has been some confusion in the past.
"I was told no, we cannot use that money for hydrants when the tax first came up because hydrants are not classified as equipment," said Miller.
Pryor Fire Chief Tim Thompson said that a lot of departments have had luck with rural water boards who are starting to understand the importance of the hydrants, and are working alongside fire departments.
"Of the 13 departments, how many have lowered their rating or have tried?" said Martin.
Miller said that six have officially lowered their rating and that one is in the middle of the process.
"I think they're all trying. Some are just more ahead in the paperwork," said Commissioner Ryan Ball.
"Well, and like I've said before, if everyone gets their ISO ratings lowered, I'm more than happy to look at redistributing that fire tax money," said Martin. "I sure appreciate you all. Let us know how we can help."
These fire departments, Miller said, are excited about the achievement and what it means for their community.
Strang Fire Department, for example, recently updated its Facebook status to say; "Strang Fire Department is proud to announce effective Nov. 1, our ISO rating will drop to a class 8B rating for members within five road miles of our station. This should cause a substantial decrease in insurance rates for homes."
The post continues, "This rating is possibly largely due to the dedication and countless work of our volunteer firefighters. We will continue to work toward a lower rating, which will require an increase in water supply and the purchase of additional equipment. If we can accomplish these tasks we are on track to see a rating of a class 6."
Martin said many departments are not stopping now, but are working to improve the rating even more.
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