MIDDLEPORT — Middleport Fire Chief Jeff Darst presented the department’s 2019 ISO report during Monday evening’s council meeting, and said he was pleased the department had achieved a Class 3 rating.
ISO stands for Insurance Services Office, an independent, for-profit organization whose function is to score fire departments using its organization’s standards every five years.
To determine an ISO rating the organization first conducts a field survey, then scores the department using the Fire Suppression Rating Schedule (FSRS), which is a 100 point scale in four key areas: Emergency Communication Systems (10 points); Fire Departments, covering personnel, capabilities, training, equipment, etc. (50 points); Water Supply (40 points); and Community Risk Reduction (extra credit of up to 5.5 points).
The report then rates the department with a score from one to 10, with one being the best. The data is used by insurance companies to determine property insurance costs, and also gives the department a benchmark by which to measure progress or regression.
Darst said the department had a Class 4 rating in 2014, so the increased rating shows they are continuing to make progress.
“We’ve come a long way since our Class 7 rating in 1970. Every year since we have managed to increase our ratings,” said Darst, noting improved water systems and addition of fire hydrants, along with upgrades in equipment as contributing factors.
“This rating puts us in the top 12 percent of all fire departments in the country; we think that is quite an accomplishment. We can always try to achieve a higher rating, but it is probably the best we can get for a volunteer department,” Darst said. “So we are quite pleased.”
Volunteer departments can score lower ratings because the departments are not staffed 24 hours a day.
“Although we always have enough firefighters available, since they are volunteers they may not be in the station, so we lose points for that, but it doesn’t mean we aren’t ready to protect the community,” Darst said. “It just means we lose points because we are all volunteers.”
Mayor Fred Hoffman and council members thanked Darst and his volunteers for their contribution to the safety of the village.
“This is quite an achievement,” Hoffman said. “This should also help with insurance rates for our area. We thank you.”
In other matters, the Mayor announced that Buckeye Hills would be attending the next meeting with their proposal on ways they can assist the Village in their improvement efforts.
He also thanked the Gallia-Meigs Community Action Association for their help in clearing areas of debris and downed trees.
The next phase of the multi purpose trail is proceeding as scheduled, and council approved Ordinance 126-20 to allow the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) to proceed with additional repair and construction. Once all phases are completed, the goal is to connect the walking trails in Middleport and Pomeroy.
Solicitor Rich Hedges presented the previously discussed lease agreement for property owned by the Village to be used by the Meigs County Council on Aging for parking at their new site in Middleport. Council will review the lease and barring something unforeseen in the agreement, will recommend it’s signing.
Middleport resident Wayne Neff brought several properties located on Third Avenue and Coal Street to the attention of the council. He reported extremely poor conditions of the properties, saying they should be considered safety hazards.
“Something needs to be done, debris could easily catch fire, and the appearance devalues other properties on the street,” Neff said.
Council took the matter under advisement.
Also discussed was the upcoming renewal of the Salisbury Township levee for cemetery upkeep. Middleport uses village funds to maintain two cemeteries within village, and the township all others, according to council discussion.
Since Middleport residents are paying for the levee and for the maintenance of their cemeteries, Hoffman questioned if Salisbury Township should reimburse the village, and said he was in discussions with township trustees.
According to Fiscal Officer Sue Baker language that would have omitted Middleport from the 2015 levee was not included, and that this needs to be corrected before it is placed on the ballot again.
More concerning this issue is expected to be discussed at upcoming council meetings.
The next meeting of the Middleport Council is scheduled for 7 p.m., Monday, Feb. 24, 2020.
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Lorna Hart is a freelance writer for The Daily Sentinel.