Fire Department improves protection rating

Tuesday, January 6, 2009 | 5:43 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA—The Columbia Fire Department improved one rank in an assessment of fire protection services done by the Insurance Services Office Inc., the department announced Tuesday.  That makes the department one of only seven in Missouri to have achieved a Class 2 rating.

The only fire department in the state to be rated at the highest level, Class 1, is in St. Louis.

"Columbians should be proud of the support they’ve given the department to receive the ISO rating," said Steven Sapp, battalion chief with the department.

The improved rating could mean lower property insurance rates for some owners, Sapp said. Not every insurance company uses the ranking, but many take it into consideration when determining rates.

This classification can also be used as a regional development tool, giving people more of a reason to consider the Columbia area.

"It can be one of the many selling points if a company is looking to move to Columbia," Sapp said.

The assessment looks at several factors, including specialty equipment, hydrant spacing, training programs, buildings in the community and communications operations.

"Our ability to improve our PPC (Public Protection) classification was positively influenced by our increase in training activities," said Columbia Fire Chief William Markgraf in a news release.

Recently added training programs include night sessions, which allow firefighters to practice in likely conditions, and live-fire training scenarios.  Sapp said the department had not been documenting all of its training sessions in years past, and increased documentation helped to improve the rating, as well.

The classification provides an objective, nationwide standard that helps fire departments in planning and budgeting for facilities, equipment and training, according to the release.


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