Photo by Jason White
Alton firefighters work the scene of a fire on Myrle Street last month. The fire department announced an improved fire insurance rating on Wednesday that may result in lower rates for Alton residents and businesses.
ALTON — The city of Alton has announced that it has lowered its Insurance Service Office Public Protection Classification to a Class 2.
Through collaborative efforts with the Alton Fire Department, Alton Police Department 911 Dispatch Center and Illinois-American Water Co., residential and commercial property owners may enjoy lower property insurance premiums. ISO grades a community’s public fire protection by evaluating fire department operations, 911 alarm dispatching and water supply. The grading scale ranges from 1 being the best protection to 10 being the worst protection. The weight of the grade is based on fire department operations at 50 percent, water supply at 40 percent, and dispatching at 10 percent.
This is the first time ever that Alton has achieved the Class 2 grade. Of the 2,517 fire departments graded in Illinois, only 63 have achieved a Class 2. Across the United States, 49,010 fire departments are graded and only 751 have a achieved a Class 2. ISO typically grades fire departments every 10 years, but Fire Chief Bernie Sebold requested that the department get graded twice in the last two years. In 2013 the fire department improved from a grade of 4 to a 3 and then, utilizing the recommendations made in that report, improved from a 3 to a 2 at the end of 2014.
“As fire chief, I must continuously evaluate our operation so that we can best meet the needs of the people we serve; the ISO evaluation is one of the many tools that I use to assist in accomplishing this task,” Sebold said.
Just a few of the changes implemented were to have the East Alton Fire Department respond to structure fires in Alton to provide a third pumper company, and administering a more in-depth public safety inspection of buildings with fixed fire protection systems like alarms and fire sprinklers. Additionally, the fire department worked closely with the Illinois-American Water Co. Operations Superintendent Karen Cooper to identify areas needing additional fire hydrants, as well as starting a fire hydrant color coding system so firefighters are able to know how many gallons of water per minute are available from the fire hydrant for fighting fires.
ISO’s Public Protection Classification program plays an important role in the underwriting process at insurance companies. Most underwriters use the ISO grade as a component in their decision matrix for which buildings to insure and how much the coverage will cost the property owner.
Mayor Brant Walker, the City Council and city employees are dedicated to the safety of their stakeholders and are excited that this ISO Class 2 grade may result in monetary savings for the citizens, and business owners through reduced property insurance premiums. They encourage property owners to contact their insurance companies to see if the Class 2 grade will lower their property insurance rates.
“This rating places the Alton Fire Department in rare company as part of only 2 percent of fire departments in the entire United States to receive an ISO rating of 2,” Mayor Brant Walker said. “I commend the work of Chief Sebold and congratulate the entire Alton Fire Department for this important designation.”