The public protection classification assigned to Park City by the Insurance Services Office regarding fire suppression could change under the ISO’s new classification schedule, but city officials are unsure whether that’s a good or bad thing.
What they know for certain is that the ISO has lost the file containing details about the city’s classification.
Park City Fire Chief Ronnie Stinson told city commissioners Monday night that ISO, which measures the fire protection capabilities of local fire departments, has “no record of Park City.”
“They know our rating,” Stinson said. “Our rating is in the computer from ‘76 and ‘96, but there is no map of anything in town. The whole file is gone.”
The agency collects information on a community’s public fire protection and analyzes it using the fire suppression rating schedule, assigning a number between 1 and 10, with 10 indicating no recognized protection, according to the agency’s website.
Park City’s current rating is 6.
“Our ISO rating is where insurance rates are generated,” said Mayor David Lyons.
Stinson told commissioners the file was lost when ISO moved its offices from Atlanta to New Jersey.
“I actually knew this, but I had forgotten it. But they lost everything,” he said.
An ISO representative visited the Park City fire station in March to conduct an investigation – the first one in 20 years. The representative checked the fire department’s equipment, fire hydrant pressure, the city’s total water volume and other factors related to fire suppression. The representative told Stinson he would try to locate the file.
“I have since talked to him and he’s not had any luck,” Stinson said.
The ISO representative has asked the fire department to provide residual information, including static pressures on fire hydrants and measurements of the Southern States facility.
“They will go from that and come back and decide if they are going to send an agent here and measure everything inside the city, every building,” Stinson said. “All they have for a rating was for Park City school and Park City fire house.”
Although Stinson thinks the fire department did OK during the inspection, the ISO will switch to the new classification system in July and it is possible the city’s rating could change from 6 to 8B, which is a new ISO classification.
“I don’t have enough information on classifications to give answers on what the A, B and C is going to mean on those classifications,” Stinson said. “We will just have to wait and see.”
Robert Andrews with ISO headquarters explained in an email to the Daily Times that the 8B rating was developed in recent years to recognize communities that provide superior communications and fire department services but lack the water supply system required for a classification of 8 or better.
“A class 8B is better than a class 9 rating; however these communities would not be able to receive higher than a class 9 rating,” Andrews said in the email.
A potential negative that arose during the inspection regards the fire department’s rescue truck. At one time, the fire department had a service/rescue truck, which was used to haul equipment and when responding to rescues, but has gradually gone to a rescue truck because that is what it uses the most.
Stinson said the fire department could buy a pre-owned truck to be used as a service truck in order to get a better classification. If Park City does buy a truck, Stinson said the fire department will try to make it one that can be used for hazardous materials.
Buying the truck wouldn’t be as big of an issue as finding a place to park it, Stinson said. He asked Lyons if it would be possible to park the truck in a building the city is looking to renovate into a senior citizen center/maintenance building, and Lyons told him it would be.
The fire department won’t consider buying a truck until after it receives preliminary information from the ISO.
Stinson also said during the meeting that he’s been assured the ISO will conduct inspections once every four to five years rather than every 20 years.
After the meeting, Lyons said he hopes the new classification will be in the city’s favor.
“Our ISO rating is where insurance rates are generated. I don’t know anything about a new classification system, so I don’t know how that would affect us,” he said. “The fact that our records have disappeared is kind of disheartening. Hopefully, it will be to our advantage. We’ve made a lot of improvements in the water system since then and with fire hydrants, and we are working closer with Mammoth Cave (National Park) and their fire system.”
Lyons also said the ISO is supposed to conduct inspections more frequently than every 20 years.
“It’s amazing they went 20 years without being here,” he said.
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