City of Idaho Falls News

Posted on: May 18, 2017

Fire Department Upgrades Result in Risk Reduction for Residents

Recently, Idaho Falls was upgraded from an Idaho Surveying & Rating Bureau (ISRB) property insurance rating of Class 3 to a Class 2. This improved rating translates into risk reduction for property owners in Idaho Falls.

ISRB is an independent rating organization operating with a license from the Idaho Department of Insurance. Out of the 251 fire departments in the state of Idaho that ISRB rates, only two (1 percent) have a Class 2 rating – Idaho Falls is one of them.

Ratings are one of the factors that affect insurance premiums for property owners. Idaho Falls Fire Department Chief Dave Hanneman explains, “The difference between a Class 3 and a Class 2 rating essentially means that local fire department protection has improved so much that the risk to homeowners and insurance companies is less.”

Fire ratings are calculated based on three categories: 1) Communications (dispatch capabilities); 2) Fire department; and 3) Water supply. Idaho Falls typically receives high scores in the dispatch and water supply categories, but the recent jump in the rating stems from increased staffing, training and equipment upgrades at the Idaho Falls Fire Department (IFFD).

“It is important to look at city property taxes as an investment. Like shareholders in a corporation, community members invest in our city, receiving service and security dividends from the infrastructure. It is because of this smart investment and support for our firefighters that our risks are now lower,” states Idaho Falls Councilman, Ed Marohn.

The last time IFFD was rated was in 2012. Typically, fire departments are reevaluated every 7-10 years, but there were such significant changes at the IFFD that leadership requested a revaluation sooner.

“We can respond better because there are more firefighters who are trained at higher levels now than ever before,” states Chief Hanneman. Twenty-six new firefighters were hired over the past two years due to retirements and increased emergency call volumes.

Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper states, “When it comes to public safety, there is a direct correlation between the amount of staff we have and response time – time that is critical to saving lives. It is all about how many stations you have, how many people you hire to work in them, and how well you train your staff. A Class 2 rating is a very impressive achievement not only for the fire department, but also for the entire community. It is reflective of community’s support for a professional fire department and investments in water infrastructure and dispatch personnel and technology,” adds Casper.

ISRB will implement the new Class 2 rating effective June 1, 2017. Updated commercial building and homeowner ratings will take effect on the insurance renewal dates. As a portion of the company-specific algorithms used to determine insurance rates, some insurance companies will put more emphasis on protection class than others, while others will not use this as a rating factor at all. Property owners are encouraged to call their insurance agent to inquire about the new rating and possible reductions in insurance premiums.

“Kudos to the Idaho Falls Fire Department for this achievement. Their commitment and dedication to protecting the property and people within the city is unprecedented. The Hartwell Corporation applauds their being pro-active which will help keep insurance premiums stable for the community,” states Staci Matheson, risk management and insurance advisor at The Hartwell Corporation.

Organized in 1885, the IFFD has evolved into a highly professional metropolitan entity. The department has 120 professionally certified firefighters, of which 38 are certified paramedics, with the remaining 82 trained and certified as emergency medical technicians.

The IFFD is committed to providing professional life saving services ensuring the safety and security of our community. The department is an all hazards emergency response organization that responded to over 10,000 calls in 2016 while serving a population of approximately 108,000 residents occupying approximately 350 square miles. The EMS division serves an even greater area of 1900 square miles.

Media Note: For more information or to schedule an interview with city staff, contact Public Information Officer, Kerry Hammon.
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