The Lee’s Summit Fire Department continues to win recognition for its quality of service. The department recently announced that its rating by the Insurance Services Office went from a Class 3 to a Class 2/2X.
“We’re very proud and happy to report that,” Fire Chief Rich Poeschl told the City Council at a recent meeting. The new rating puts Lee’s Summit among 29 of Missouri agencies out of 1,700 with that rating, he said, while only two Missouri departments have a 1 Classification.
The ISO completed a Public Protection Classification survey collecting information on Lee’s Summit’s fire protection services.
Classification 1 represents the best public protection while Class 10 indicates less than the minimum protection, said Assistant Fire Chief Jim Eden. The split 2x classification indicates there are some areas of service more than 1,000 feet from a fire hydrant.
The rating goes into effect June 1 and includes Greenwood and Unity Village, Eden said.
Eden said the fire department and Lee’s Summit Water Utilities have met with the ISO representative to go over the results of the survey in detail. The departments will use the information to maintain and improve services, with the goal of a Class 1 rating.
Eden said the ISO analyzes public fire protection data in a Fire Suppression Rating Schedule that compares areas including emergency communications (dispatch), facilities and equipment, training, response to emergencies, fire prevention activities, water supply for fire fighting, water distribution and record keeping.
Eden said the rating also helps fire departments in planning and budgeting for facilities, equipment and training.
Drayton Riley, an insurance agent and a member of the Lee’s Summit Public Safety Advisory Board, said the rating is one factor in establishing insurance rates for homeowners and businesses. With the higher ratings, companies can provide better rates because they have less risk.
“You’ve got the possibility of reducing property damage a great deal,” Riley said.
He said that in the past, he could look up ratings as he was giving price quotes on insurance coverage. That’s no longer the practice, he said, but actuaries continue to use the ISO ratings into the company’s rate structures.
Riley said that in past ratings, Class 4 and above in the top tier were lumped together, so a change from a Class 3 to Class 2 wouldn’t save any money.
Under current practices of actuaries at his company, he said, there could be savings for property owners with the new rating but not a “jaw-dropping experience.” The cost of individual coverage depends on a variety of considerations of carriers.
A fire loss can cost an insurance company $300,000 to $400,000 even for a “modest” house, Riley said, because it could pay for not only the house and contents, but also for temporary housing for the family and demolition.
Riley said that even if the additional individual savings are small, it adds up overall for a community. And it shows the department is consistently trying to improve.
Response times are one piece of the puzzle that helps improve an ISO rating, and good response times play a role in successful emergency medical calls, which the department runs far more often than fires.
“That the Lee’s Summit Fire Department sets a high standard for itself is a blessing for the community,” Riley said.