Leader Blues

Saturday, October 21, 2006

TOP STORY >>Cabot’s ISO rating drops

IN SHORT: A decline after a recent inspection and analysis may cause some residents to pay higher premiums.

By JOAN MCCOY
Leader staff writer

Cabot has outgrown its fire protection and several hundred residents could have to pay more for insurance until the situation is corrected.

Fire Chief Phil Robinson said this week that affected homes will be in Greystone and Magness Creek off Highway 5. The solution to the problem is a fully staffed and equipped fire station in that area, but right now the city has neither the land to put it on nor the money to pay for it.

So Robinson said he is looking at stopgap measures like a temporary fire station and bringing in Mountain Springs Volunteer Fire Department to cover the area. But whether either plan is feasible or will accomplish the goal of keeping insurance premiums down is not known, he said.

Previously, the city’s fire rating from Insurance Services Office (ISO) was a Class 3, but after ISO completed an inspection and analysis of the city’s fire-suppression system this summer, the rating dropped to Class 3 / 9.

With ISO ratings, the lower the number, the higher the rating and the less insurance is likely to cost.

A letter from ISO to Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh dated Sept. 27, 2006, tells the mayor that the rating has dropped for property that is more than five road-miles from the nearest responding fire station or within five road-miles of the nearest responding fire station but more than 1,000 feet from a fire hydrant. The former is now a Class 10, the lowest possible, and the latter is a Class 9.

Several city council members, contacted about the change in fire rating, said they had not been notified. Robinson said this week that all houses beyond 903 Greystone Blvd. are a Class 10. That includes these subdivisions: Mystery Lake, Southern Hills, Georgetown, Signature and Kensington.

In Magness Creek North subdivision, the 11 streets beyond 61 Lakeland are Class 10, Robinson said. Robinson said several houses in the subdivisions are under construction and several lots have not been sold, so it is not possible to determine how many residents are affected by the drop in ISO rating.

Robinson said the city is looking at land for the new fire station across Highway 5 from Greystone and he has applied for a grant for a $750,000 ladder truck from the Department of Homeland Security. A ladder truck would serve the area better than a fire engine because many of the buildings are tall, he said. However, a fire engine would cost $500,000 less than a ladder truck.

Whether the new station will be built anytime soon is not known.

“We’re working now to see if it would fit into next year’s budget for capital expenditures,” Robinson said. “If I had my way, we’d build it now.”