From: Bill Fielder
Think about it
“It is my understanding that ISO requires a 24-7 staffed firehouse within 5 road miles of your residence for your residence to obtain a ISO Class 4 rating. ISO does not require a full time staffing of 4 paid firefighters to obtain the rating. The distance from OSFD to the Linger Longer Reynolds’s gate is just over 6 miles distance that would eliminate most home owners that live on the Plantation and some who live in The Landing from being eligible for the Class 4 rating.”
The Insurance service office does not require that a station be staffed with 24/7 employees however those employees do credit toward the number of available responders, which is a consideration during an ISO survey. It does require that the station have a minimal amount of equipment and available personnel to respond. It does require that the station be within 5 miles of the property for said property to receive the lower rating in a split ISO rating. The current rating for OSFR is 6/9. To receive credit as a “6” the property must be within 5 road miles of OSFR station 91 on Carey Station rd OR within 5 road miles of OSFR station 92 located inside of The Plantation AND be within 1000ft of a recognized water source. Recognized water sources are pressurized fire hydrants or a static suction pointed that is credited by ISO. OSFR staff has been diligently working with the Insurance Service Office to obtain credit for the Fire Boat (Marine 9) as a credible water source. They will
not have a final determination on whether or not the boat was credited until the ISO survey report is completed. If in fact Marine 9 did receive credit as a water source then every property within 1000ft of Lake Oconee and within 5 miles of a fire station, would receive the lower of the split rating. OSFR staff indicated to me that the representative from ISO that completed the on site survey made all indications that it would be credited.
“All of Reynolds is currently rated by ISO at Class 6 and has held that rating even when OSFD was an all volunteer operation”
OSFR has not previously been evaluated by the insurance service office during the time that it has employed paid staff. An ISO rating cannot change unless a survey is completed. The only survey that has been completed since OSFR has been staffed 24/7 is the recent survey completed earlier this year in which no rating has yet been assigned for. Again, 24/7 staffing is not required by ISO however a minimum number of available responders is required (that includes volunteers or paid staff). The paid staff at OSFR does credit towards ISO staffing requirements. OSFR has also purchased additional equipment since the previous ISO survey.
“Big Canoe does have a ISO Class 4 rating and as I understand it is a mostly volunteer fire department. The department is paid for with POA fees. They have 5 fire houses inside the gates. Only one of these is staffed 24-7. Maybe the Reynolds POA should study this option. Here is some information on the Big Canoe Fire Department.”
OSFR is also mostly volunteer and mostly “support” volunteer at that. A support volunteer firefighter is not certified to actively participate in the mitigation of an emergency. Support firefighters that OSFR have on hand serve them very well in the aspect of getting fire apparatus’ to the emergency scene and assisting with certain non hazardous job functions. The support firefighter role is an essential function at OSFR and not to be taken for granite but to go along with those support firefighters, you have to have certified operations firefighters to actually mitigate the emergency. Understand that OSFR wants to provide the residents that it serves with the best possible service but it’s absolutely up to us, the residents, to determine what level of service that is. OSFR staff has worked diligently to lower the ISO rating and reduce the cost of homeowners insurance for property owners. There are more variables in the question than can be explained on this blog in
reference to staffing numbers that count for ISO and staffing numbers that matter in the real world when there is an emergency incident. Additional stations would not necessarily lower the rating for residents in the OSFR district. Currently OSFR has two locations. These two locations provide the majority of the properties in the Old Salem Fire district coverage within 5 road miles, which intern allows for said property to receive the lower of the split ISO rating. Adding a station would only encompass more properties to receive the lower of the split rating if they are currently the higher of the split classification. The added equipment or additional staffing that would come along with adding a station would be the only benefit to lowering the overall rating. This would be the same outcome, in reference to the overall rating, if equipment or staffing is added to a current OSFR location. In other words, just the aspect of adding another station would not further lower your ISO
rating if you are already receiving the lower of the split rating, it could affect your rating if you currently receive the higher of the split rating. As earlier stated, you would also have to be within 1000ft of a recognized water source for an additional station to affect your rating, as ISO requires that you be within 5 miles of a station AND within 1000ft of a recognized water source.
“However, insurers in many states no longer use the ISO ratings as they have found them to be unreliable in estimating the insurer’s costs.”
The State of Georgia insurance commission uses the ISO rating to determine Insurance rates.
“It looks to me as if most homeowners on the Plantation will not benefit from the extremely high cost of the OSFD. The Lake Oconee News reported the OSFD total budget for 2015 is estimated to be over $800,000. Almost twice the amount Oconee County spends for fire protection. The LOA news also reported that the $56,000 tax increase would pay the one half the cost of an additional paid firefighter. WOW !!!!!!!!!!!!”
The residents of the Plantation absolutely benefit from OSFR. Oconee County Fire Rescue is a county government that receives many benefits such as tax breaks and consolidation of overhead at the county level that OSFR does not receive benefit of since it is not a government agency. Oconee County also has the luxury of operating as a volunteer department with only a paid fire chief therefore they have no payroll expense. The difference in volunteers is that Oconee County has an abundance of certified operations volunteers. Old Salem has primarily support volunteers. If citizens in the Old Salem fire district would become certified as operations firefighters and volunteer for the fire department then OSFR wouldn’t need more staffing. That’s a community problem, not the fire departments problem. Someone tell me, particularly MR. REED, what the local fire department can do to attract you or your neighbors to volunteer to spend hundreds of hours becoming a certified operation
firefighter, then countless hours each year training and updating certifications. What can they do to convince YOU to get out of bed in the middle of the night or leave your job or activities during the day and respond to emergency calls. I’m not willing to do that. I would rather pay a little more money on my tax bill to insure that they have adequate staffing to operate the best way possible. I’ve talked to them, I know the facts, I know what they are trying to do and I understand it. I understand that the numbers that ISO require to make the rating go down on paper and make our insurance go down aren’t necessarily the same numbers or abilities needed to operate the right way. Again, the lack of willingness to become operations level volunteers is a community problem not the fire departments problem. The only thing they can do without volunteers is Hire people. $56,000 would pay for roughly half the cost of an additional paid position. Do the math.
365 days a year, 24 hours a day = 8,760 Hours a year
$56,000 x2 = $112,000
$112,000/8760 hours= $12.78 per hour (average) probably plus or minus that number depending on which employee is filling that position on a certain day and their individual certifications/rank
That number is in line with typical pay at a Fire Department. Call around and ask.
“At the Commission Meeting this past Monday, Ed Bullard, Chairman of the County Commission, decided to defer voting on the proposed OSFD tax increase. This situation needs to be carefully studies who has a good knowledge of costs versus benefits. It looks like the current plan is good for Del Webb, Harbor Club and some Landing home owners, but not for those of us who live on the Plantation.”
I’m sure the vote was deferred so the county commission would have sufficient time to consider different budget options and make a sound decision rather than a spur of the moment one. You clearly do not have an understanding of any of it and should go find out facts in person. Harbor Club is not even in the Old Salem fire district. The ISO rating for Harbor Club is not reflective upon anything that happens at OSFR. Harbor Club is part of the Walker Church Fire District. Del Webb, The Landing, and The Plantation will all benefit equally from adding an additional person. The additional person isn’t going to change the ISO rating, but it will change the safety and efficiency of real world operations. I can assure you no one over at the fire department has anything but your best interest in mind even if it may cost a little more money yearly on the tax bills. I know a lot of those guys over there and they only want the best for the community and to be able to operate safely and