09 May New FIRE RATING is Huge for Beaufort and Port Royal Residents
Beaufort-Port Royal Fire Department earns state’s highest possible fire rating
The Beaufort-Port Royal Fire Department will carry the highest possible fire rating effective Aug. 1, becoming one of about 200 fire departments in the entire country to hold the ISO 1 rating. The improved rating can translate into fire insurance savings for businesses and residents.
Across South Carolina, 21 other fire departments are rated as ISO 1. Nationally, less than one percent of fire departments earn the highest rating. No other Beaufort County fire department has the Class 1 rating.
“This best-possible rating speaks to the determination and dedication of our fire department over the years, and to the strong support by the Port Royal Town Council and Beaufort City Council to provide exceptional fire protection,” Beaufort City Manager Bill Prokop said.
Among rated South Carolina fire departments, most are in the ISO 4 or ISO 5 range. Prior to Beaufort and Port Royal’s latest review, it carried a joint ISO 2 rating.
A strong ISO fire rating can translate to annual savings on fire insurance premiums, particularly for commercial properties. Insurance companies can use the ISO rating as an indicator of a community’s ability to provide fire protection.
Verisk Analytics, formerly known as the Insurance Services Office, provided the professional review, assessment and rating for the Beaufort-Port Royal Fire Department.
The upgraded and top-ranked fire rating could help boost economic growth in the area, particularly for commercial developments including the Port of Port Royal project, Port Royal Town Manager Van Willis said.
“We have the right equipment, we have a well-trained group of firefighters and we have fire stations in the right locations,” Willis said. “We’ve also got a strong water utility in Beaufort-Jasper Water & Sewer, and they’ve done a tremendous job making sure we have fire hydrants and strong water pressures in our area.”
The ISO rating system measures the major elements of a community’s fire-suppression system and develops a numerical grade from one, the highest, to 10. In the review process, the fire department carries 50 percent of the total points, followed by the water system with 40 percent and communications/dispatch with 10 percent.
New to this year’s fire rating is the Community Risk Reduction factor, which includes the area’s building codes and enforcement, fire safety education, and community outreach such as smoke detector programs. Beaufort and Port Royal earned 5.3 of the total 5.5 points in that category.
“The Beaufort-Port Royal Fire Department serves our communities at an exceptionally high level, and this new ISO 1 rating affirms that,” Fire Chief Reece Bertholf said. “About 30 years ago, our communities had an ISO of 6 to 9. Over the years we have made great strides and we are proud to share this new ISO 1 rating.
“This is a clear indication that we are making progress and making the right improvements to serve and protect our entire community,” Bertholf said.
Here’s how the review process works:
Fire alarms: 10 percent of the overall grading is based on how well the fire department receives fire alarms and dispatches its fire-fighting resources. Field representatives evaluate the communications center, the number of operators at the center and the listing of emergency numbers in the telephone book. Field representatives also look at the dispatch circuits and how the center notifies firefighters about the location of the emergency.
Engine companies: 50 percent of the overall grading is based on the number of engine companies and the amount of water a community needs to fight a fire. ISO reviews the distribution of fire companies throughout the area and checks that the fire department tests its pumps regularly and inventories each engine company’s nozzles, hoses, breathing apparatus and other equipment.
ISO also reviews the fire-company records to determine:
· type and extent of training provided to fire-company personnel
· number of people who participate in training
· firefighter response to emergencies
· maintenance and testing of the fire department’s equipment
Water supply: 40 percent of the grading is based on the community’s water supply, specifically whether the community has sufficient water supply for firefighting beyond daily maximum consumption. During an ISO review, its team checks all components of the water supply system, including pumps, storage and filtration. They check the distribution and location of fire hydrants and the rate of water flow provided by water mains.