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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Fire rating one of best in Tennessee

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Shelbyville's fire department has once again been given one of the best ratings in the state, allowing citizens to continuing saving money on their homeowners insurance.

The Insurance Services Office (ISO) has given the department a rating of "3," which city manager Jay Johnson said is an "excellent rating for a city this size." The rating was first given to the city in 2005.

ISO works for insurance companies and rates communities all across the country. Looking at the water supply, communications and fire departments, ISO reviews the fire suppression capabilities of a community and assigns a Public Protection Classification (PPC) -- a number from 1 to 10.

Only five other fire departments in Tennessee have a better ISO rating that Shelbyville's, according to the latest survey.

Johnson praised Fire Chief Ricky McConnell, general manager David Crowell with the city water department and the people working the county's 911 center, saying it takes a team to make this happen.

"Adds up"

The city manager said the latest report points out strengths and areas where improvements can be made, hoping that the ISO report will be looked at during budget discussions later this year.

The ranking will help the taxpayers with their insurance rates, with the fire chief explaining that the "3" means a savings of $300 to $900 a year on premiums.

"It adds up when you've got as many homeowners as we do," he said, noting that rankings of a "4" or "5" could mean paying as much as $50 more annually.

McConnell explained that 10 percent of the rating accounts for the communications system, 50 percent for the fire department and 40 percent from the water supply survey.

Out of 100 points available, Shelbyville received a total credit of 71.59, saying that the water department's rating was so good, a small divergence was applied to the fire department's rating to "even it out."

The chief said his goal now is to "do the things needed done," such as training, to keep the department's score steady. McConnell said that the only way Shelbyville could get a class 2 rating would be to hire more personnel and open another fire station.

Future plans

McConnell said it was "fantastic" that the city has been able to maintain the score of "3," especially due to the budget constraints experienced by communities during the economic downturn of the past several years.

Out of 1,017 fire departments in Tennessee, Shelbyville and 37 others share the rating, "which we are very proud of, that's an amazing accomplishment," the chief said.

Both the 911 communication center and the water department were also praised by the chief for their cooperation in achieving the ranking. Currently every fire hydrant in the city is inspected once a year, and the department is hoping to do it every six months.

The ranking tells the department that they have the people, training and equipment they need to do the job right, McConnell said.

McConnell is still looking at the goal of taking the department's 1983 pumper to Station #3 at the airport, and then turning the location into a volunteer station by staffing it with people who already live in the area.

Having that station active will help lower the rating for the northern part of the city limits, and McConnell said he will call ISO for a reevaluation when that is completed.

That area of town has a rating of 3/10 since it is five miles from the nearest fire station, but a volunteer station will drop that number and keep coverage there until the city can afford a new fully staffed facility.