Rating change may equal discounts for some owners

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By Jacquelyn Stoess Hack

Property owners in the North Oldham Fire Protection District might soon enjoy a discount on their insurance rates, thanks to a revised ISO rating.

ISO (Insurance Services Office) is a nation-wide subscription service that most insurance companies  use for establishing premiums for fire insurance based all or in part on the “Property Protection Class” (PPC) rating.  A PPC of “1” is the best you can get and a PPC of “10“ would typically be assigned to areas without any fire protection at all. 

The North Oldham Fire Protection District has recently obtained an improved ISO rating of “4” for properties within 1000’ of a recognized fire hydrant and five miles of a fire station and “8-B” for those beyond those parameters.   This new rating replaces the “5” and “9” ratings previously held.

ISO ratings are based on the district's water supply, alarm notification by the dispatch system and the fire department's ability to deliver fire protection service to the area. Property owners in the North Oldham district are advised to contact their property insurance provider to see if they may see a possible reduction in premiums with this reduction in the PPC rating.

This improvement is largely a result of improvements in staffing levels with implementation of daytime paid staffing at their Skylight Station and volunteer nighttime “in-house” staffing at the Goshen Station. 

“It was part of our lang-range plan,” said Don Dahl, assistant chief, training and fire prevention coordinator for the North Oldham Fire Protection District. “The more people you have to respond, the better your service is going to be.”

Dahl explained that the department has made several changes to its staffing model. Instead of volunteers responding from their homes to the firehouse then on to the scene, volunteers are stationed at the firehouse during overnight hours to provide for a quicker response.

"When you've got to get water on a fire in a hurry, people are already here and ready to get on the truck to get that first apparatus on site right away," Dahl said. 

Dahl added that paid staff on the Skylight station during the day provides coverage while volunteers are typically at work, and that the Goshen station has employed day staff for a long time. Schedules were changed to create staggered start and finish times for employees, which created a smoother shift transition.

"We're basically covering a 12-hour day with paid staff, then our volunteers cover the night shift," Dahl said. "It's a very cost-effective way to obtain 24-hour staffing without using the revenue we don't have anyway."

Another contributing factor was improvements to the infrastructure for water distribution by both Louisville Water Company and Oldham County Water, both of which provide hydrants to the district.  Improvements to the Oldham County Dispatch Center were also a factor.  ISO routinely evaluates the water distribution and communications capabilities of an area as well as the fire department when they perform their evaluations. These evaluations are typically conducted once every 7 to 10 years.

While the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards are the driving document for most of the District preparation, planning and operations, the ISO rating does provide a relative savings to the taxpayer in insurance rates and is considered by the Chief and trustees in both short and long-term planning for the district.

Dahl contacted the Kentucky Department of Insurance to learn more about the potential insurance discounts for North Oldham residents. He discovered that rates and discounts vary greatly from company to company, but that residents in the more suburban areas of their district would likely see an average decrease of about 4 percent, while residents in the rural areas could garner an average decrease of 23 percent in their insurance rates.

"The key factor is distance from the fire department," Dahl said. "Any residents with questions about how far they are from the fire department can call us and we'd be happy to answer any of their questions."

Dahl said that the department is constantly looking for ways to improve its staffing, which in turn improves its services to residents.

"Our biggest focus is maintaining our volunteer staff and increasing the number of volunteers we have," Dahl said. "The larger we can make our volunteer force, the better off we are."

 For more information about volunteering, either as a firefighter or as support staff, or about the new ISO ratings, contact the North Oldham Fire Protection District at 228-1447.

More information about this reduction and other happenings at the North Oldham Fire Protection District can be found on the North Oldham Fire Department website at www.nofd.org.

Email us about this story at publisher@oldhamera.com.