POMEROY — The Pomeroy Volunteer Fire Department was notified that, effective last month, its classification was elevated to an ISO Class 3 fire department.
From 2006 to 2015, the department had been the only ISO Class 4 fire department in Meigs County.
The ISO analyzes data provided by fire departments, their emergency dispatch systems and their water systems to give approximately 49,000 fire departments nationwide a Public Protection Classification between 1 and 10. A fire department with a Class 1 rating generally represents superior property fire protection; whereas a Class 10 rating indicates that an area’s fire-suppression provider does not meet ISO’s minimum criteria.
Insurance companies use Public Protection Classification information to help establish fair premiums for fire insurance — generally offering lower premiums in communities with better protection. These businesses then decide what business to write, coverages to offer or prices to charge for personal or commercial property insurance. By offering economic benefits for communities that invest in their firefighting services, the program provides an additional incentive for improving and maintaining public fire protection.
According to Pomeroy Fire Chief Rick Blaettnar, his department has worked hard to attain the Class 3 status.
“Our department has focused for several years on becoming a Class 3 department, and during this inspection period we thought that this was our chance to move up,” he said.
The department had been classified as Meigs County’s only ISO Class 4 fire department for nearly a decade prior to this inspection period.
“The members of the department made the commitment to do everything in their power to get the maximum point allotment that the fire department can receive during the inspection,” Blaettnar said. “Thankfully, everyone did their part, and as a result, we were able to achieve our goal of becoming a Class 3 fire department.”
To determine a community’s Public Protection Classification, ISO conducts a field survey using a manual called the Fire Suppression Rating Schedule, which evaluates four major areas dealing with fire protection: emergency communications center, water supply, fire department and community risk reduction. Experts from the ISO staff visit the community to observe and evaluate features of the four major areas.
After completing the field survey, ISO analyzes the data that was gathered during the field survey and calculates the Public Protection Classification. A department has the potential to earn 100 points through the emergency communications center, fire department and water supply. An additional bonus of is awarded in the community risk reduction area.
ISO’s field representative visited the Meigs County 911 facility and evaluated the support system for handling and dispatching alarms for structure fires which accounts for 10 points of the total classification. The field representative also met with Pomeroy Public Works officials to evaluate the community water supply for adequacy in fire suppression purposes. While looking at the water system, ISO considers fire hydrant size, type, and installation, as well as the frequency of hydrant testing and flow-testing program. This part of the evaluation is worth 40 points of the total classification.
During the review of the fire department, ISO field representatives review the department’s suppression capabilities based on the first-alarm response and initial attack to minimize potential loss. ISO reviews engine companies, ladder or service companies, deployment of fire companies, equipment carried on apparatus, pumping capacity, reserve engine apparatus, company personnel, and company training. This fire department review accounts for 50 points of the total classification.
The ISO review also allows extra credit of up to 5.5 points in community risk reduction for fire prevention code adoption and enforcement, public fire safety education, and fire investigation conducted by the fire department.
After evaluation of the four criteria, the Pomeroy Fire Department’s score placed them between 70 and 80 points, and pushed their classification from an ISO Class 4 to an ISO Class 3 department.
Pomeroy Mayor Bryan Shank was excited to hear the news that the departments hard work had paid off.
“It is great that our fire department was able to achieve their goal of becoming an ISO Class 3 department,” he said. “There are only 3,200 Class 3 departments nationwide and approximately 224 in all of Ohio. The training and dedication put in by our firemen is to be commended.”
Shank was also quick to point out the continued effort of the Pomeroy Public Works employees.
“Our employees in the Pomeroy Public Works should also be recognized for their working getting new fire hydrants installed and tested throughout the village,” he said. “Also, their continued work on the replacement of water mains from the pump house in Syracuse into the village, and upgrading the water lines throughout town has greatly aided the dependability and quality of the water system. Former Mayor Welker and village council also deserve recognition for finding funding sources to complete these needed infrastructure projects.
“I encourage our community to support our fire department and the work they do to improve our community, and hopefully, moving from a Class 4 to a Class 3 will allow our citizens and businesses to save money on their fire insurance.”
“We’re going to be proud of this Class 3 rating; however, we realize that our job is never done and we are not going to be satisfied,” Blaettnar said. “We are going to continue to work hard, train hard, and be the best department that we can be. I feel like our department can achieve anything and this Class 3 rating shows that.”
The Pomeroy Fire Department serves the village of Pomeroy and contracts for fire protection with Bedford and Salisbury townships in Meigs County. Their coverage area is 70 square miles and protects 4,600 citizens. The Pomeroy Fire Department fleet includes two front line pumpers, one aerial ladder, one brush truck, one rescue, one boat and one reserve pumper.
For more information on the ISO Public Protection Classification system or Fire Suppression Rating Schedule, go to www.isomitigation.com
Derek Miller, of the Pomeroy Fire Department, serves as president of the Meigs County Firefighter’s Association.