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April 25, 2013

 

IS THE JASPER COUNTY ISO RATING IN JEOPARDY?

 
Chief Slocumb admits that engine #4 doesn't work, but he said having it at Station 4 "looks good to the State."  Comm. Trammell asked if the purpose was to "fool the State."  Watch video here. 

 
The ISO rating is supposedly what your insurance premiums are based on.  The JCWSA, Comm. Trammell, Comm. Salmon, and the Fire Chief mention it frequently.  They contend we need more hydrants and water lines to bring “growth” to Jasper County and to bring our ISO rating down.

 
ISO - Insurance Service Office - is a, for profit, organization that provides statistical information on risk. For many years the "ISO Rating" had a large impact on most fire departments. The ISO (PPC) rating is from 10 – 1, with "1" being the best. At one time, almost, all insurance companies calculated rates based upon the ISO rating. ISO would come to your city and assess a Public Protection Classification. They would then sell this data to the insurance companies.  But now ISO ratings might have very little, if any, effect on insurance premium rates in many states. Some insurance companies have discontinued purchasing ISO data and using it to calculate rates. Instead of using a theoretical risk evaluation, they have opted for a system where they use the actual loss within a zip code.

 
The JCWSA has always said that the hydrants they installed have brought down the insurance rates in the county.  If you speak with your insurance agent, you may get a different view.  Jasper County has 2 ratings--5 and 9.  The type of fire equipment the county has as well as how long water can be continuously supplied to a fire also determines the ISO rating.

 
There may be some problems with the ISO ratings in Jasper County; those problems include hydrants that are not being maintained, equipment that does not work or is questionable due to lack of regular maintenance by the fire chief, and the possible misleading of ISO inspectors/personnel. 

 
A case in point is the fire engine at the Hillsboro station--Engine #4.  See previous article here.  At the recent budget meeting, Comm. Trammell asked Fire Chief, Jarrett Slocumb, about Engine #4.  Jarrett Slocumb admitted that the engine didn't work and hadn't worked for at least 10 years. 

 
Question: When was the first ISO report submitted by Jasper County and was engine 4 included as "working"?  When have follow up reports been submitted and was engine #4 again included as working?  It is possible that Engine #4 was included as working based on the conversation at the April 22nd BOC budget meeting. 

 
Chief Slocumb admits that the engine doesn't work, but he said having it at Station 4 "looks good to the State."  Comm. Trammell asked if the purpose was to "fool the State."  Watch video here. 

 

As for the maintenance of hydrants, Chief Slocumb said this was supposed to be done yearly, but hadn't been done in 2 or 3 years.  Chief Slocumb wants the county to fund a worker to work 3 days a week for 20 weeks to help him test all the fire hydrants in the county, including the city’s hydrants.  See video here.

 
Each year JCWSA gets money via a special tax district.  JCWSA also contends that a questionable resolution paying them "to maintain fire hydrants" is still valid.  BUT JCWSA doesn't maintain the hydrants and never has even though that is supposedly what is to be done with the money they collect (and have collected) either through the tax district or from the BOC and general fund over the years. 

 
A JCWSA member tries to blame the lack of hydrant maintenance on the last BOC, but the problem is (and has been) JCWSA wants the money for maintenance of hydrants from the county and then they want a county employee to do the work and be paid by the county.  See video here.  (The money received by JCWSA is actually spent on the debt they have.)

 

The ISO has been talked about by the JCWSA and now by the BOC.  Comm. Trammell has brought it up more than once. Comm. Trammell talks about having a fire district for the entire county—meaning a special tax for all us. See video here. He indicates, as does Comm. Luke, that homeowner’s insurance premiums will go down. Comm. Pennamon tries to explain how ISO is not the panacea that the new BOC members think it is.  Listen to the discussion on the video about the huge up front and ongoing cost to lower the ISO and have another fire station.  Comm. Luke talks about manned fire stations, but obviously has not researched the cost.

 
"Growth" and "jobs" are words often used along with ISO.  There has been talk of more water lines and hydrants even though what the JCWSA has now can't be maintained without additional funds being funneled to them, either through a special tax or an outright payment by the taxpayers.

 
It would be interesting to see just what is on the county ISO reports and if the information is legitimate.  Maybe this BOC will do more than "investigate”, but with two former JCWSA members on the BOC and some wanting to put a county-wide fire district tax in place, don’t count on it.

TWG
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