Merrill Fire Chief Dave Savone
and Jeremy Ratliff
Merrill homeowners may be seeing a break in their home insurance thanks to a new, higher rating of the Merrill Fire Department.
Last week the City of Merrill Fire Department received notice that the Public Protection Classification (PPC) from Insurance Service Office, Inc. (ISO) has been updated. ISO conducted an analyzation of the fire department and its capabilities, the available water supply in the area and the emergency communications facility using its Fire Suppression Rating Schedule.
Several criteria derived by the standards established by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the American Water Works Association are evaluated. ISO rates the approximately 48,754 fire departments nationally. ISO is a private organization and is the leading source of information about insurance risk, which gauges the fire protection capability of local fire departments to respond to structure fires.
Part of the homeowners and business owners insurance premiums which are paid by home and business owners, are based on the quality of the fire protection available.
The ISO suggests the rating to any insurance company that requests it.
Prior to this announcement, the Merrill Fire Department earned its most recent ISO rating in 2010. Based on a scale of one to ten, with one being the best rating, the City of Merrill earned a Class 3/9 ISO rating in 2010.
“Today, we are very pleased to announce the City of Merrill Fire Department’s rating has been upgraded to a Class 2/2Y,” stated fire chief Dave Savone. “These numbers represent city and rural areas in the MFD response district either serviced with fire hydrants (the first rating class number), or rural which do not have fire hydrants (the second rating class number/letter).”
The Merrill Fire Department is a career fire department which provides fire protection to approximately 14,846 citizens and 596 commercial businesses in the City of Merrill, Town of Merrill, Town of Rock Falls and the Town of Scott.
This new Class 2 ISO rating puts Merrill Fire Department in an elite class, as one of 36 fire departments in the State of Wisconsin to receive a Class 2 PPC rating, which is the top 2% of all fire departments nationally.
“This change is due to the hard work of the Merrill Firefighters, the command staff of the MFD, the gracious gift of some new equipment to the Fire Department from the Bierman Family Foundation, support of city administrator Dave Johnson and the support of Mayor Bill Bialecki along with the members of the City Council,” Savone said.
Over the course of the last three years, the fire department has diligently been at work to continue making the improvements necessary to increase the overall rating.
“After the extensive review process, we were able to achieve an overall rating of Class 2/2Y,” Savone said.
The classification is comprised of three sections:
• Emergency communications account for 10% of the classification: Improvements were made by the fire department by adding a “dispatch printer” as a secondary notification system in the event of an emergency incident dispatch. Other improvements include: Merrill City IT and Lincoln County IT, clarified that the Public-Safety Answering Point can provide VoIP protocols. They also clarified that the 911 center can perform mutual aid dispatch and meet the criteria for an interoperable system. Lincoln County 911 Communications Center, clarified the alarm process is meeting the criteria of NFPA 1221. Currently the alarm processing time averages 45 seconds.
• Water supply system – 40% of the classification: The city water department continued providing the necessary inspection and flow testing of fire hydrants.
• Fire Department – 50% of the total classification: Improvements include enhanced firefighter and company officer training, and improved Haz-mat training. With the sale of an old fire engine to NTC, and due to the terms of the sale, MFD was able to consider that apparatus as a reserve fire engine for MFD. Improved apparatus ratings due to the purchase of updated vehicles and equipment from the Bierman Family Foundation. Improved operational consideration due to use Standard Operational Procedures and Incident Management Systems. Improved Community Risk Reduction due to improved public educations programs, increased certified fire inspectors, improved pre-fire plans on commercial buildings.
The businesses and homeowners could be able to save money on their fire insurance rates because of the higher rating. Most U.S. insurers – including the largest ones – use this information in determining what businesses and homeowners insurance to underwrite and which coverages to offer, at what prices for both personal and commercial property insurance.
The PPC classification should be posted within the next two-three months. Business and property owners should contact their insurance agent after that time, to determine whether they qualify for any change in insurance rates. “Because of the work of the Merrill Fire Department, we have improved our rating which can potentially save our business owners and citizens money on their insurance policies,” said Savone. “The Merrill Fire Department is now recognized by a national organization, as being in the top 2% of fire departments across the state, and the nation.
“I credit the hard work of our fire fighters and support from city administration, in helping us to achieve this major milestone.
“I also credit the Bierman Family Foundation. Their generous gift to the fire department allowed us to purchase the apparatus and equipment to carry us to our new classification. This achievement will not only help make city safer but more attractive for future business.”