STEVENSVILLE — The Lincoln Township Fire Department is halfway to its goal of obtaining the best possible rating from the Insurance Services Office (ISO).

The rating from the ISO is used as a grading scale of 1-10 for fire departments nationwide, with a rating of 1 being the best. A lower number rating can help lower home insurance premiums.

“We had been rated a 5, and we were due for an evaluation. Now we’re rated a 4,” said Chief Brandon Chiarello. “Our goal is to achieve a 3, which is the best possible rating for a combination fire department, which is one with paid and volunteer firefighters.”

Only full-time fire departments with all paid firefighters can be rated a 1 or 2, so the highest the Lincoln Township department could achieve would be a 3.

ISO is an independent company that serves insurance companies, communities, fire departments, insurance regulators and others by providing information about risk. ISO collects and evaluates information from communities in the U.S. on their structure fire suppression capabilities and assigns a Public Protection Classification (PPC) grade.

The evaluations are based on a uniform set of criteria, and incorporate nationally recognized standards developed by the National Fire Protection Association and the American Water Works Association. Factors include things like staffing, training, response time/number of firefighters responding to calls, water supply, number of hydrants and dispatch services.

Chiarello said homeowners insurance is based, in part, on the ISO rating.

“I’d suggest people reach out to their insurance company,” the chief said. “Some people’s insurance rates may improve. When we move to a 3 it should save people a great deal.”

Chiarello said he and Captains Scott Wiederwax and Phil Keyes have been working hard to improve the department’s rating. 

“Scott has worked on emergency reporting, and Phil’s been heading up training records. In the past we lacked keeping those in order, so Phil has done a great job with that and Scott has revamped our Standard Operating Procedures. 

“The overall state of our fire department is that we’re being progressive and proactive and we’ve come a long way to get this improved rating,” Chiarello said.

The highest number of fire departments in the nation, 9,214, are rated a 5, according to the ISO. Lincoln Township joins 6,990 departments that are rated a 4. Nearly that same number, 6,501, are rated a 9.

Contact: jswidwa@TheHP.com, 932-0359, Twitter: @HPSwidwa