Gantt VFD earns 5-9 ISO rating

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A new rating recently earned by the Gantt Volunteer Fire Department is already having a positive effect on its community, but in a place many may not have expected – their pocketbooks.

Bill Stanley, firefighter and member of the department’s board of directors, said the department received a 5-9 rating from the Insurance Services Office (ISO), a group that monitors risk factors and their direct correlation to insurance premiums.

ISO monitors fire departments’ abilities to respond to emergencies, as well as infrastructure, water departments and many other agencies that factor into an area’s overall safety. ISO then rates the overall safety of an area on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the safest and 10 the most unsafe.

“They check us every five years or so,” Stanley said. “We were down from a 7-9 to a 5-9, which is saving a lot of people money.”

In fact, one area resident has already shown his appreciation for the savings to Gantt fire officials. Gantt Fire Chief Doug Noon said local resident Kylan Lewis donated $100 of his $233 reduction in insurance premiums back to the department.

“He felt it was his duty to return some of the savings to the Gantt Area Fire and Rescue Department,” Noon said.

Lewis said giving a portion of the money back just made good sense.

“Help make the department even better than the best by contributing part of your premium savings,” he said. “Giving a portion of something you would not have even gotten, without the efforts of a lot of volunteers, seems like a no-brainer to me. Both the fire department and the homeowner win. Can’t beat that. If all volunteer fire departments in Covington County could reach this status, think of how much money would stay in Covington County.”

Stanley said other fire departments in Covington County are currently being graded on the ISO scale, but, to his knowledge, only Gantt has received their new rating thus far.

“I believe we are the first volunteer fire department in the county to be ranked at a 5-9,” he said. “It’s because of increased training; making sure we have tested and up-to-date equipment; showing up to fires in an efficient time; and just being the best we can be.”

And Stanley said the benefit of a good ISO ranking can have more of an economic benefit that just a few hundred dollars.

“The better we can do, the better insurance rates are for businesses that may want to come into the area,” he said. “As volunteers, we keep that in mind.”