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Fire department rated in top 4 percent of agencies nationwide

DeKALB – The Insurance Services Office, which evaluates public fire protection services, has awarded the DeKalb Fire Department a Class 2 rating, placing it in the top 4 percent of departments nationwide.

ISO uses a 105.5-point system to evaluate a community’s fire department, water system and emergency communications systems. Ratings go from one to 10, with one being the most exemplary service.

DeKalb Fire Chief Eric Hicks said in a news release that the lowered rating has taken several years to achieve.

“Our investment in fire mitigation, which is a proven and reliable predictor of future fire losses, helped improve our rating,” Hick said in the release. “Cooperation and commitment of all city departments were essential to this achievement and we will all work hard to maintain the Class 2 rating in the future.”

One of the areas the department was lacking was inspection and condition of the city’s fire hydrants. Hicks said restarting a hydrant inspection and maintenance program is one of the easiest ways to help the department achieve a Class 1 rating by 2022.

“I really think ISO [Class] 1 is attainable at a very low cost to the city,” Hick said. “It’s just going to take some effort and time to get it down.”

This rating not only validates the work of the fire department over the past five years, but also translates positively to certain home and business owners who might see a lower fire insurance premium because of it.

Insurance companies use these ratings to help establish fair premiums for homeowner and commercial fire insurance on properties located within 5 miles of a DeKalb fire station.

Hicks said for every point an ISO rating improves, insurance premiums decrease by 1 percent to 2 percent for eligible commercial properties. With eligible residential properties, premium decreases vary depending on the insurance company.

For a house insured at $150,000, a homeowner could save between $12 and $25 if their policy and broker use ISO as a rating method, according to Hicks.

Commercial building owners might save about $180 a year for a building valued at $2 million.

“Aside from the potential reduction of insurance premiums, the quest for a lower ISO rating has challenged our department to be better in all we do,” Hicks said in the release. “Those who serve on the DeKalb Fire Department are dedicated to providing great service to benefit the city, its residents and its future economic development opportunities.”

The new rating will take effect March 1.

In the meantime, Hicks encouraged residents to visit with their local insurance agent to see how this rating might affect them.

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