The State of Texas Fire Marshal’s Office recently delivered an official presentation regarding Prosper’s ISO-1 fire rating: the first time in history the town has scored a one, the scale’s best rating.
A town’s Insurance Services Office (ISO) fire rating is based on how well a city’s fire department can protect and look after the community that it is responsible for. This is based on several factors: staffing levels, water supply, emergency communications systems, fire prevention and fire station proximity. The rating ranges from a 10, which is the worst score cities can receive, to a one, which is the best score.
“The Insurance Services Office is a third party that most of the insurance companies use throughout the United States,” Fire Chief Stuart Blasingame said. “The easiest way to put it is like auto insurance, if you have three wrecks in a year, your insurance is going to go up. Well that’s kind of the same thing this does, it judges and looks at your record. The lower the ISO number, the less insurance rates are. The majority of insurance companies throughout the United States utilize ISO.”
Therefore, a home with a lower risk for severe fire damage holds a good ISO rating. Home insurance companies will then offer lower rates if there is a good ISO rating because the city’s fire department is able to eliminate fire threats more effectively.
“It’s not only big for homeowners and residents, but it’s huge in commercial properties as well, especially a larger commercial project,” Blasingame said. “If you have the opportunity to go on one side of the street or the other, a huge factor that they’re going to look at is the insurance rating. It could be the difference of a deal or not.”
Prosper’s ISO rating has come a long way. When the town had a population of about 3,000, it carried an ISO-9 rating due to its unstaffed fire department. After the town upped staffing to two employees per day, the ISO rating dropped down to an ISO-5, and after increasing equipment, staffing and adding a fire station on the west side of the town, it was reduced down to an ISO-2.
“They told us when we got to a two that the reason we couldn’t get to a one is because we had a lot of buildings that were above two stories that were out of the reach of our ladders,” Blasingame said. “Our largest ladders that we carry on our firetrucks are 24 foot. We have some three-story apartments and three-story buildings throughout town, and the way they look at that is that we wouldn’t be able to service those appropriately if something really bad happened out there. With the support of the town, the residents and the town council, we went back last year and requested an aerial ladder truck.”
Although the ladder was ordered last year, the three-month construction will not begin until this October, leading to an expected completion date in December. However, a loan ladder was issued until the new truck is ready. This final detail was the last push, allowing for the town to earn the ISO-1 rating — a rating which is obtained by only 70 of the 4,000 fire departments in the state of Texas, and less than 400 in the U.S.
“Maintaining will be our biggest challenge, which we plan on doing, but as the town continues to grow we have to grow with it,” Blasingame said. “This proves that we are operating at one of the highest levels of service that probably can be offered. What we don’t want to do is, as our population continues to rapidly grow, lose that level of excellence that our residents are used to today. So we will do everything in our power to keep up with the staffing, to keep up with new stations, and try to match our abilities with the growth of the town to make sure that the level of excellence will continue here.”