Highlands Fire Dept improves ISO rating

  • Highlands Fire Dept improved its ISO rating during a recent state inspection.
    Highlands Fire Dept improved its ISO rating during a recent state inspection.

Highlands Fire and Rescue has been providing quality fire and emergency services for Highlands residents for years and their efforts are now paying some dividends with lower ISO ratings.

An ISO rating, according to Chief Ryan Gearhart, is a report card grade as to how the fire department is doing its job. 

“As a department, we have worked hard to maintain and improve our response time on calls,” Gearhart said. “The new ISO rating is evidence of our hard work and dedication as a department.”

Improved response times on calls goes a long way in saving lives and minimizing property damage in the event of fire and other emergencies. 

A lower ISO rating translates to lower homeowner’s insurance rates, Gearhart said.

Gearhart said the Insurance Service Office is a third party independent agency that evaluates the fire department, water department and communications systems of a municipality. It rates the results on a national scale from one to ten, with one being the best and highest. 

According to ISO, its Public Protection Classification Program plays an important role in the underwriting process with insurance companies. Most U.S. insurers report that the PPC information is used in their decision-making process when deciding what business to cover, what coverage plans to offer, or prices to charge for personal or commercial property insurance. 

Highlands Fire and Rescue improved its ISO rating from a split rating from a Class 4 up to five miles out and a Class 9 up to six miles out, to a Class 4 inside and outside of town up to six miles.

“The lower the ISO Rating number the better and a lot of that had to do with the water supply,” Gearhart said. “This is one of the reasons I’ve been pushing for the 24 hour coverage is to hopefully bring that number down a little bit.”

Mayor Patrick Taylor said he was pleased with the new ISO rating and how it will help keep monthly premiums in check.

“It’s good because it makes our insurance ratings strong and keeps our premiums on our fire insurance down,” Taylor said. “I was very pleased we were able to get the ratings we did get. Our fire department and also Squad 4 in Macon County had to do a lot a preparatory work before this inspection took place, and I congratulate them on their hard work and dedication.”

Gearhart said progress on the new fire station is continuing.

“We went ahead and purchased the 2.48 acres property on June 1,” he said. “We met with the contractor and the architect. The contractor is working on putting together a Guaranteed Maximum Price. Following the GMP, the contractor will seek out three bids for the different phases of the project.”

Gearhart said the new fire station will be a great addition to Highlands. 

“I am excited about what this new fire station will do for the community,” he said.