Glenwood Springs gets improved fire insurance rating |

Glenwood Springs gets improved fire insurance rating

An improved fire-insurance rating for the Glenwood Springs Fire Department could mean lower insurance premiums for residential and particularly commercial property owners next year.

According to Glenwood Springs Fire Chief Gary Tillotson, a 10-year effort to upgrade facilities, equipment, training, emergency communications and the local water delivery system has paid off.

As of March 1, 2016, the department’s Public Protection Class rating, as determined by the Insurance Services Office (ISO), will improve two points on the 10-point rating scale from a 4 to a 2.

“This has been the result of 10 years of hard work on the part of a lot of people,” Tillotson advised Glenwood Springs City Council members recently.

Since 2005, the department’s rating has remained unchanged at 4, he said. A class 1 rating under the scoring system means excellent fire protection, while a class 10 indicates the ISO’s minimum standards are not being met, he explained.

“The fire department has done a better job of having all the right equipment in all the right places,” Tillotson said. He also credited the Garfield County 911 emergency communications system for making technological improvements in recent years.

“The only thing we lack right now is manpower, and that’s the one area we got graded down in,” Tillotson said.

The city has included an additional firefighter/EMT position in the department’s 2016 budget in response to increasing call volumes. Most of that increase is related to ambulance calls and traffic accidents rather than structure fires.

The new ISO rating should be good news for property owners, though. The rating is used by insurance underwriters to calculate the risk of loss related to fire damage.

Although homeowners insurance does not change much as long as the rating is between 1 and 5, Tillotson said a two-point improvement could result in as much as a 5 percent drop in insurance rates for commercial property owners.

The new classification applies to all properties within five road miles of a fire station, he also explained. Any properties outside of that five miles will remain at a class 10.

Under the rating system, 50 percent of the score is determined based on fire department or district’s training and equipment capabilities, station location and other elements.

Another 40 percent is derived from the water supply system in the local community, and the final 10 percent relates to the emergency call handling system.

“The improved scoring represents continuous improvement over the last decade in all of these areas and validates the ongoing efforts of fire department leaders, water system operators, county communication system partners and neighboring fire departments to provide the best service possible,” according to a city of Glenwood news release.

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