The Auburn Fire Division recently gained an important seal of approval from a company that rates thousands of fire departments across the country every year. With the city's new rating, residents and businesses may see the cost of their fire insurance decrease.
The city was rated in the top 2.4 percent in the nation for its fire protection, according to a press release by the city. The Insurance Services Office, a private subsidiary of Verisk Analytics, rates the effectiveness of local fire protection with a system called the Public Protection Classification.
"Last year, ISO graded 48,000 fire departments, and only about 1,000 of were ranked a No. 2 rating," said Auburn Fire Division Chief John Lankford. "For a small community, (the rating) is pretty good."
The classification system rates communities from one to 10 in terms of the fire protection, with one being the best and 10 designating communities with the worst protection. Auburn was rated a 2/2X, an improvement upon the 3/9 rating the city received in 2008.
The city's 911 system and infrastructure are assessed, in part, to determine the ranking.
"They look at our 911 system, how we receive calls, how those calls are dispatched and how all of that recording and processing goes on," Lankford said. "Another component is our water system, our fire hydrants, how often we test them and how much water they'll flow."
But the company also assesed the city's fire division more specifically.
"Another big component is the fire department in itself," Lankford said. "They look at our training records, the number of firefighters working on a shift, our fire trucks, what are their capabilities, what kind of equipment they have and how much water they'll pump."
Most insurance companies use the rating to determine fire insurance rates, aside from the general information the rating provides about the quality of the city's fire division.
The first half of the 2/2X classification is used to determine fire insurance rates for structures within 5 miles of a city fire station and within 1,000 feet of a fire hydrant or other water source.
The 2X portion of the classification is used for any structures in the city that are within 5 miles of a fire station, but are more than 1,000 feet from water sources, according to the press release.
"It's important for us because it directly reflects a national standard," Lankford said. "It gives us a score on a national-standard level. It gives us the insight on our capabilities."