The city of Richmond Hill expects homeowners to save an average of $181 a year in insurance costs after its ISO rating dropped from Class 4 to Class 3.
Fire Chief Ralph Catlett made the announcement at Tuesday night’s city council meeting.
“This is the result of a lot of work by our firefighters and the support of the mayor, council and city manager,” Catlett said. “This amount of improvement in such a short time is almost unheard of.”
Catlett said the city’s rating in 2013 was 60.67, which the Insurance Service Organization barely considers a Class 4 rating. The new rating is 74.56, which is just five points away from a Class 2.
The insurance savings to homeowners should equal about $900,000 per year cumulatively, or $2.7 million over the three years that the rating is good for.
This follows another insurance savings that the city announced in July under which eligible flood insurance policy holders can expect to save $120 on flood insurance through Richmond Hill’s voluntary participation in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Community Rating System.
ISO, the Insurance Services Office, rates municipal fire departments using what it calls a Public Protection Classification to assess fire protection efforts in a particular community, then assigns a rating of Class 1 to Class 10. The lower the classification, the better the insurance rates homeowners can receive.
Catlett said Richmond Hill is one of only 69 fire departments in Georgia with a Class 3 or better rating out of 1,038, putting it in the top 4 percent. It is also among the top 5 percent nationally out of more than 49,000 fire departments.
“In the past two years, the city has remodeled one station, purchased 24 new air packs and other equipment, purchased a new engine and hired more personnel,” Catlett said. “Additionally, we have modernized our records and reporting system with new software that allows us to maintain records that are vital to the ISO evaluation.”
Catlett added that two years ago the department had no pre-fire plans for local businesses. It now has 700, which gave the department the maximum of 12 points in that category under the ISO evaluation.
Mayor Harold Fowler praised Catlett, who was hired in January 2014.
“In the short amount of time you’ve been here, you have accomplished some amazing things,” Fowler said.
“I’m very proud of our fire department personnel for their hard work and dedication,” Catlett said. “While our new classification may lead to reduced property insurance rates, it is our ability to respond and potentially save lives that are most important.”