Some county fire insurance rates set to decrease

By Stephanie Casanova
Manhattan Mercury – May 23, 2017

Some business owners and homeowners in Riley County may see a 2- to 5-percent reduction in their fire insurance starting Aug. 1.

The Insurance Services Organization, or ISO, recently audited Riley County Fire District No. 1 and improved the ratings of 11 of the 15 fire stations in the county, Pat Collins, Riley County emergency management director, told county commissioners during their Monday meeting. Fire stations are rated on a scale from Class 1 to 10, with 1 being the best.

A lower class number translates to lower insurance costs for property owners who use insurance companies that base their rates on ISO ratings.

While not all insurance companies base their ratings on the ratings, homeowners insured through companies that do could save between $300 and $1,000 annually depending on their insurance company. Those figures are based on $200,000 homes. Riley County’s average home value is $160,000.

Homes and businesses covered by the Ashland, Peach Grove, Mayday or Hunters Island fire stations will see an increase between $100 and $1,000 annually in their fire insurance. The ISO increased the classification for those four stations.

The ISO looks at the number of trained personnel and number of staffers, the number of three-story buildings, number of hours of structural firefighter training, training facilities, fire codes and records. They also require that the fire trucks meet or exceed equipment and pump requirements, and they test hoses and pump service.

Properties more than 5 miles from a fire station are rated Class 10, and properties within 5 road miles of a fire station are rated a Class 9. Properties within 1,000 feet of a fire hydrant received a Class 5 rating, and a 5Y rating signifies a property more than 1,000 feet from a fire hydrant but within 5 miles of a fire station.

In 2013 the ISO revised its ratings, but insurance companies still use the old scale, so some stations have two ratings.

Most Riley County fire stations were reduced from a Class 7/9 to Class 5/5Y. The four stations that saw an increase in classification were moved from a Class 9 to a Class 10. Some insurance companies don’t increase rates between Class 9 and Class 10 ratings, according to information from Collins. The new ratings will affect 1,398 commercial properties rated Class 5, and 3,433 residential and 1,967 commercial properties rated Class 5Y. In the area of the four stations whose rating increased, 147 residential and 40 commercial properties will be affected. Collins told commissioners the audit showed some areas in which the fire district could improve, the biggest being recruiting volunteer firefighters. The ISO requires a 3-to-1 ratio of volunteer firefighters to paid firefighters, meaning a job that would normally require four paid firefighters requires 12 volunteer firefighters, Collins said. “We need to recruit, recruit and then after we get done, recruit,” Collins said. “We’ve got to get more people in the (fire truck) seats.”

The four stations whose rating increased need more adequate fire trucks. The fire district also needs more company level training, Collins said. Some large buildings, including two high schools in rural Riley County, lack adequate water supply to fight fire, he said. Collins said as the district makes changes and improvements they can contact the ISO to reevaluate their ratings.

“I think we need to keep moving forward and focus on some of those areas that don’t have that 9 rating now or 5, 5Y rating and try to get that fixed,” Collins said.


Posted by Gwen Dorr Romine, KSFFA Webmaster
KSFFA’s Fire News Blog Home Page

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