Marion Township Fire Protection Rating to Set at 8B

(MITCHELL) – The Marion Township Rural Volunteer Fire Department applied for a fire protection rating recently to help lower homeowners’ insurance rates.

According to Fire Chief Paul Gillespie, the Fire Protection Rating can only be an 8b. This means that they have excellent fire protection but no water supply.

The Insurance Service Organization creates ratings for fire departments and their surrounding communities. The ratings calculate how well-equipped fire departments are to put out fires in that community.  The ISO provides the score, often called the “ISO fire score”, to insurance companies. The insurance companies then use it to help set homeowner insurance rates.

An ISO rating, also referred to as a fire score or Public Protection Classification, is a score from 1-10 that indicates how well protected your community is by the fire department. In the ISO rating scale, a lower number is better: 1 is the best possible rating, while 10 means the fire department did not meet the minimum requirements.

Current Lawrence County Fire Department Ratings:

  • City of Bedford – 4
  • Guthrie Township – 10
  • Huron – 9
  • Indian Creek – 9
  • Marion Twp. – 8b
  • Marshall Twp- 9
  • City of Mitchell – 7
  • Oolitic – 6
  • Perry Twp- 7
  • Pleasant Run – 9
  • Shawswick – 9
  • Williams – 9

The fire ratings are from four main criteria to a fire rating score:

  • 50 percent from the quality of your local fire department including staffing levels, training, and the proximity of the firehouse.
  • 40 percent of the availability of water supply, including the prevalence of hydrants and how much water is available.
  • 10 percent comes from the quality of the area’s emergency communication systems (9-1-1)

Any area that is more than 5 driving miles from the nearest fire station is automatically rated a 10.

Depending on your state, it’s possible to get a maximum score of 106 percent on the survey, although any fire department that scores above 90 percent receives that highest ranking of 1. Only one fire department in Indiana has a ranking of 1; that is Pike Township, near Indianapolis. The City of Bloomington has a fire protection rating of 2.

Insurance ratings can be impacted by ISO ratings.

In 2004, the Perry Township Volunteer Fire Department in Springville lowered its fire protection rating to 7. The lower rating benefited not only Perry Township but also neighboring townships in Indian Creek and Marshall. Some insurance policies were lowered more than $1,000 a year to around $646 in Perry Township.

Not every insurance company uses ISO fire ratings. Farm Bureau, State Farm and Erie Insurance use other classification tables to calculate risks.

Marion Township uses their Aerial truck to battle a fire at Persimmon Park Apartments in Mitchell

The fire protection rating in Marion Township can only be an 8b rating because the South Lawrence Water Corporation will only let the ISO Evaluator use fire hydrants they choose.

When it comes to an ISO Evaluation, the person evaluating the water flow will choose the fire hydrant and evaluate the flow rate out of that particular fire hydrant.

“It does not matter at this point what type of equipment or manpower we have we can only have an 8b rating,” says Marion Township Fire Chief Paul Gillespie.

In a letter by their attorney, South Lawrence Water Corporation listed below:

1.) Yes, the SLWC board voted on the hydrant situation with the Marion Township Fire Department, it was a board decision. Our meetings are open to all members and not done in secret and the vote was unanimous.

2.) The Board is willing to have a water flow rate test and this fact was made known to the Fire Chief and two board members. SLWC said they could use the specific designated by the board and not some random site. Apparently that was not good enough. You know that when they turn the hydrants wide open it stirs the line and creates discolored water for the customers which can last as long as two to three weeks. The sites selected by SLWC would not create this problem. You should also know that no pumper can pump directly from a hydrant, the suck would collapse the line, BUT we do allow free flow to fill a tanker AT NO COST the to the fire department.

3.) SLWC is a not for profit corporation owned by its users who elect the board. There are seven (7) board members.

4.) As stated earlier the board meetings are open the members and they meet the second Thursday of every month.

“The Marion Twp. fire Department does not benefit from the lower fire protection rating or receive any grants or additional monies for a lower fire protection rating,” Chief Gillespie added.

Until South Lawrence Water Corporation changes its policy the residents of Marion Township will only see the 8b fire protection rating.  

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