Lee County Fire Dept. prepares for ISO evaluation | News
LEE COUNTY, GA- The insurance rates Lee County home and business owners pay will be on the line as the Insurance Services Office inspects the county fire department.
Right now, Lee County doesn't have a very good ISO rating.
Despite upgrades to the fire department, even some county leaders don't expect that rating to improve.
It's been 12 years since the Lee County Fire Department had their last Insurance Services Office evaluation. Currently their Public Protection Classification is termed a 6-9 which means some of the county has a 6 rating, with a one the best fire protection, and ten means basically no protection. The question is, will this evaluation improve or lower that rating.
"As Chief, I know without a shadow of a doubt we are a better fire department. Equipment, manpower, everything wise than we were the last inspection," said Lee County Fire Chief James Howell.
50 percent of the grade is based on the firefighters and equipment, 40 percent on the water supply capabilities, and 10 percent on the 911 system.
The department has five manned and one unmanned station. State of the art new air packs for the firefighters, 5 front line pumper trucks, a 5000 gallon water tanker lots of good points.
The biggest issue for Lee County is their number of firefighters. They have 30 full time firefighters and 15 part time, with a chief and assistant chief below the numbers per truck deemed adequate.
"I'm very optimistic that we will be able to maintain that same rating. I don't look for us to improve that rating. I think it would take a significant investment in resources, quite a few more personnel probably, to make that next move up," said Lee County Board of Commissioners Vice Chairman, Rick Muggridge
Experts say the ISO evaluation is much tougher in recent years, despite the improvement in fire prevention.
"I'd like to see our ISO improve. If it doesn't improve it's certainly not because we haven't done everything we could financially within our bounds to get there," said Howell.
Commissioners say the cost for those ISO ratings might not be worth the benefits.
"Because of the way our population is spread out it doesn't make it economically feasible for us to make the investment. We wouldn't get the return because of our lack of density in our population," said Muggridge.
But firefighters say no matter what grade evaluators give them, they are sure that people in Lee County are safer because of an improved fire department.
My understanding they have really tightened up their evaluation. And we'll just have to see how it plays out."
ISO evaluators are expected in Lee County the end of April or first of May. To learn more about the ISO classification program and your insurance rates click here.
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