Md. fire department earns top ISO rating
Only 241 other departments have achieved a Class 1 rating from the Insurance Services Office
By Chase Cook
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The Annapolis Fire Department has achieved something only 241 departments have done across the country, a success that will trickle down to save some homeowners and businesses a little bit of money.
The department received a 1 rating from the Insurance Services Office, which is the highest rating possible from the organization. The ISO is a for-profit national agency that provides a rating to departments based on their training, and fire suppression and prevention capabilities. An ISO 1 means the department has met the highest requirements. For homeowners and businesses that have fire insurance that use the ISO ratings, the higher a department's rating the lower premiums will be. The rating could drop businesses insurance rates about 3 percent with homeowners saving about 1 percent.
The fire department is the 242nd department to receive the highest rating, out of about 45,000 districts. The highest rating can be displayed on the department's equipment and patches.
Annapolis fire chief David Stokes had made reducing the department's ISO rating a priority since they received a 2 rating in 2012.
"Every fire chief wants to be a fire chief of a class ISO 1 fire department," Stokes said. "I'm very proud of all the people, this is a great fire department. They do a great job and this validates what we all know that this is a good fire department."
Annapolis and Baltimore City are the only departments to be rated ISO 1 in Maryland, the city said in announcing the rating.
When the department got the 2 rating in 2012 the major missing components for the highest rating were more training hours and more community outreach. So Stokes began ramping up training and bought new software to track how often his firefighters were being trained. The software made it easier to count the hours and last year the department had about 22,000 hours of training between all of its staff. The ISO also tests fire hydrant flow, they visit buildings to check on fire prevention tools, response times and area of coverage.
The department also initiated more outreach by going door-to-door with businesses and helping them better understand fire prevention. One particular initiative had firefighters bringing Christmas tree safety information to local businesses. This came after two high profile Christmas tree fires, one that claimed the lives of six people and the other that destroyed the old Annapolis Yacht Club building.
"This rating reflects the dedication and excellent service that our Annapolis Fire Department offers to our residents," Mayor Mike Pantelides said in a prepared statement. "Congratulations to Chief Stokes and to the department for your unwavering commitment to the citizens of Annapolis."
With the ISO rating at its highest, Stokes said he plans to turn his attention to earning accreditation from the International Association of Fire Chiefs.
This is just a way for department's to continue to measure and test themselves, Stokes said.
"We have to keep up what we are doing," he said. "We have to maintain the training levels."
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