Public Safety, city working to lower Bainbridge’s ISO rating

Published 7:29 pm Thursday, July 2, 2015

Earlier this year, Bainbridge received an ISO rating of four, which maintains lower homeowner insurance rates in the city.

Bainbridge Public Safety Major Doyle Welch, with the help of other city employees and department heads, is trying to lower that rating to a three.

ISO collects information from communities that goes into insurance underwriting and rates the community based on insurance risks. Such information may include flood risk, building code enforcement and evaluations of public fire protection.

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“We’ve maintained our four. A three would mean a lower cost of homeowner’s insurance to the residents,” Welch said, “ and commercial business – it’s a very good deal for them.”

During evaluation this year, Bainbridge came within one percentage point of receiving a rating a three. After an error was corrected, Bainbridge stood at 69.5 percent, just half a percentage point away from a possible three rating.

“We’re shooting for a three,” Welch said. “When we turn our next paperwork in, we’ll have everything in order. We’re going above and beyond.”

Part of that above and beyond is a color-coding system for the city’s fire hydrants, Welch said. The city is beginning to paint each of its more than 870 fire hydrants bright yellow with a color-coded top that will signify the hydrant’s flow capacity. Welch has also worked with the Bainbridge Water Department to develop a maintenance schedule for the city’s hydrants.

Welch said that officers have found everything from dog chains, socks, bricks and Nemo toys in hydrants during flushing.

“People take the caps off of them and poke all kinds of stuff through there. If an officer goes there and for some reason doesn’t flush the hydrant before we get there, that debris will get into our strainer. The strainer will stop it, but it can get clogged. We have to shut the system down and clean it,” Welch said. “Two minutes is a long time trying to get a water source hooked up when somebody’s inside a house and you need to get in there.”

A portion of the ISO rating BPS regularly scores well on is arrival times, Welch said.

“ISO says the first fire truck must be on scene within four minutes,” Welch said. “Our average response time is three minutes and 32 seconds for the first engine. The second arriving fire unit has to be on scene within eight minutes, and ours is four minutes and 18 seconds. We’re really good on that.”

In the meantime, Welch and BPS are working to address training deficiencies and are urging every officer receive the training required to be a state-certified apparatus engineer, which would help dual-duty officers know how to operate an almost-80,000-pound fire truck.