City given improved ISO rating

Published 10:10 pm Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The city of Demopolis will improve its ISO rating from 5 to 4, effective May 1. What that means for the people of the city is decreased insurance rates and a higher rating of its emergency providers.

ISO — which once stood for Insurance Services Office but is now just an acronym — rates fire departments by collecting information about fire protection efforts and other safety factors in communities nationwide.

ISO analyzes the data and assigns a Public Protection Classification rating of 1 through 10, with 1 being a superior ranking and 10 indicating that the community does not meet ISO’s minimum criteria.

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Almost all U.S. insurers of homes and business properties use the ISO rating in calculating premiums. In general, the price of insurance in a community with a good rating is lower than a community with a lower rating.

“With an improvement in rating, it should, over time, have an impact in lowering some premiums,” said Kris Mullins of State Farm Insurance of Demopolis. “I don’t know what the overall impact will be, but it’s good. The better service we’ve got, the better it is. It will either help ease the pressure on rising prices or help decrease the prices.”

Mullins added that the only insurance that would be affected is homeowner’s insurance.

“The ratings are affected by two different things: fire protection and police protection,” he said.

The Demopolis Fire and Rescue Department trained hard to help get an improved ISO rating.

“When you go back and look at our training scores, we got maximum points for almost everything that we did,” said DFRD chief Ronnie Few. “Training is a big thing. Although we don’t have a training facility, we didn’t let that stop us from training as much as we could. We brought in special classes, and the University of West Alabama has done some things for us, giving us free training.

“Being a Region 5 hazmat (hazardous materials) team helped with this ISO rating tremendously,” he said. “There was a lot of training that was free and resources as well. “

The improved ISO rating put Demopolis on a higher level nationally in the level of protection the city provides, should an emergency occur.

“All departments of the city is what helps to make this possible, but the most obvious of these is the fire department and the water department,” said Demopolis mayor Mike Grayson. “The fact that we’ve got a professional, well-trained fire department is a testimony to where the citizens of this town put their emphasis.”