Occasionally the City of Galion hears questions about the value of large equipment purchases. In the case of the Fire Department’s new aerial truck, however, the purchase helped the department improve its ISO rating from a Class 5 to a Class 3.
Out of 48,642 fire departments in the U.S., 10 percent have a Class 3 rating or better.
“It’s about looking at the overall operations. A three rating is equivalent to getting a one to me because of the size of our department,” Fire Chief Phil Jackson said.
This is the best rating the Galion Fire and EMS Department has received since Jackson became chief in 2011. At that time, the department was downgraded to a Class 6. The staff worked to improve operations and requested a new certification review. The department was then reclassified as a Class 5, where it has remained ever since.
The Insurance Services Office was formed in 1971 as an advisory and rating organization for the property and casualty insurance industry. The organization collects statistical data and promulgates rating information on behalf of insurance companies.
In the most recent ISO review, Galion received full credit for pump capacity, which determines if a department has sufficient equipment to handle the largest facilities within its jurisdiction. This was in large part due to replacing the aerial truck that was sold in 2009.
Other factors that helped improve the rating included:
- Testing and maintenance of equipment
- Annual fire safety inspections
- Dispatch efficiency
- Increased record keeping
- More documentation of staff training
- Amount of available water
- Community fire safety programs
The Galion Fire and EMS Department was established in 1842. It employs 17 people serving both Galion and Polk Township. In 2016, the department responded to 526 fires and 1,658 EMS calls.
“You have to creatively use your staff. I’m happy with their hard work – it reflects the efficiency of our department,” Jackson said. “Hopefully the improved rating helps our citizens save money.”
An improved ISO rating can result in lowered premiums for home, property, and commercial building insurance. Reductions will be dependent on several other variables and will vary by insurance company. The majority of insurance carriers give their best rate when the ISO rating is a Class 4 or better.