• 66°

Gantt VFD improves ISO rating

The Gantt volunteer Fire Depart-ment recently was evaluated, and the department has increased its Insurance Service Organization, or ISO, rating from 9 to 7.

"Most every fire department went through an improvement," Gantt Mayor David Harrell said. "The department worked hard to get everything up to speed, and we feel like we've received a lot of improvements."

Some of those improvements include a pumper-truck that was purchased a year ago, said Harrell. The department will look to add to its innovations, he added.

"There are things we can do down the line to improve the efficiency rating," he said.

The department, along with other volunteer fire departments in the county, are evaluated every three years. The scale in which they are rated ranges from 10 as the lowest rating to 1 as the highest.

While the improvement in rating is good news for the department, it is also good news for home and business owners in the area, according to Harrell.

"It cuts down on the premium rates considerably, from up to 35 or 40 percent savings on insurance." he said.

The rates should be in effect by March 2004, when the rating will officially change in the books, said Harrell.

"Every (volunteer fire department is doing a good job)," said Dale Pancake, former treasurer for the fireman's association said. "There are a fair number that still have a 9, but all the (departments) I know of are doing a good job. There are some that I know of with fewer people and fewer resources.

"The rating is based on standards set by the ISO," he continued. "It partly depends on response time and training. The (fire) departments must meet stringent requirements, and the increase in rating from a 9 to a 7 in Gantt is really something to be proud of."

Pancake added one of the requirements in order to get at least a 7-rating is for the department to pump at least 250 gallons of water per minute. He added the rating is very hard to achieve, especially for departments without hydrants in the area.

"Some areas don't have hydrants and water coverage (to pump that amount of water per minute)," he said.

"Gantt Fire Department puts a lot of effort into record keeping and training for improvements," added Harrell. "The objective has been for Gantt (fire) to receive the equipment necessary for improvements ever since the beginning of its operation in 1981."

The department received equipment, including the purchase of a brush truck, three years ago. The type of equipment the department receives also affects the ISO rating, according to Pancake.

"There are a couple of larger operations in the state that may have twos," Pancake said. "They may have a shuttle and drop tanks which can boost the ratings."

The minimum amount of equipment and training for a certified fire department may earn a 10-rating for the ISO, he added.