Troy Fire Department rating could improve after grant

Published 3:00 am Thursday, August 24, 2017

A grant that will allow the Troy Fire Department to hire six new firefighters could help lower homeowner insurance rates in the city.

Chief Michael Stephens said that the $500,000 grant approved by the city council Tuesday night will allow the department to bring on six new firefighters and fully staff the new third fire station on Elba Highway.

“This will bring us up to 51 firefighters and will bring us into compliance with NFPA 17-10,” Stephens said, referencing a regulation by the National Fire Protection Association that calls for 15 firefighters to respond to every structure fire. “That’s unheard of for a city our size.”

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Stephens explained that the regulation is one of the many variables looked at by the Insurance Services Office (ISO) when they come to each fire department every three to five years to assign a rating.

“They go off your manpower, which includes men and trucks, they pull calls and see how long it took us to get there, the number of men o the initial response, how much water you can put on the fire, number of fire hydrants– it’s a lot of stuff,” Stephens said.

The ISO then comes out with a rating for the department based on all those factors. Last time around, Troy was rated a “Class 3.” That’s actually in the top ten percent of fire station in the U.S. according to Battalion Chief Curtis Shaver.

“Out of 49,000 departments, there are only 4,309 that are class 3,” Shaver said. “You’ve got to understand, of course, that the vast majority (of all fire departments) are volunteer fire departments. Paid departments are going to represent 20,000 or less of that.”

Stephens said adding the third station and maximizing manpower should push the department to a class 2 rating.

“We were very close to ISO 2,” Stephens said. “We feel very confident we will be at least a 2 when they come back.”

Stephens said the ISO last visited about three years ago and typically returns every three to five years, so he expects an inspection soon, which could soon mean lower rates for homeowners’ insurance.

“The lower the ISO rating, the lower your homeowner’s insurance,” Stephens said. “That’s how most base your homeowner’s insurance. It also helps to bring industry in and helps the taxpayers as far as relief from insurance costs.”

If troy achieves a class 2 rating, it would put the department in the company of a mere 1,300 across the nation.

“We’re working on being a class 1,” Stephens said. If Troy reached that mark, it would make them in the top 250 departments in the country– within the top 1 percent of all departments in the country.

Stephens thanked the governmental leaders who helped to get the grant and fund the fire department every day.

“The mayor and council have really worked hard to give us the tools we need to be able to meet this and this FEMA grant has really helped out,” Stephens said. “Kudos to Martha Roby’s office as well for making some phone calls for us. We’re very blessed and fortunate to have this opportunity.”