Insurance Rating Could Lower Costs for Homeowners

By Sue Moore

Fire Chief Tracy McMillan was happy to report to trustees of the South Kalamazoo County Fire Authority (SKCFA) board that the department’s Insurance Service Office (ISO) rating has been lowered from 7 on a 10-point scale to 5, with 1 being a perfect and virtually unattainable rating.

The ISO rating is important to some insurance agencies which base their rates on the designation. They gather statistics every five years by examining the records of each fire department in the state. They look at training records, types of equipment, capacities, dispatch capabilities, the estimated response time and how many firefighters are put on the scene, McMillan said. The response time has improved over the last six months with an average of 5.96 minutes from the time a station’s pager goes off to the time the command vehicle gets to the scene. This is based upon five miles in any direction from the station, McMillan said.

He also described the busiest day in his memory: There were 11 total calls on March 8 when a windstorm of up to 50 miles per hour hit south county. Three semi-trucks rolled over on U.S. 131 by Schoolcraft, there were grass fires and every township in the service area was having problems.

Jim Mallery, a member of the volunteer advisory board, said members have been meeting with the chief each month and making progress. “The goal is to look at the CPSM consultant’s report to see if we meet the goal we set for the month and then move on to the next goal.”

As the meeting was about to end, Vicksburg resident Denny Olson accused Randy Smith, Brady Township Supervisor and Fire Authority board trustee, of trying to get rid of the chief and said he personally “wasn’t going to stand for it anymore. You should resign or retire. I’m coming for you, Randy!”

Smith said in response that there was “No shred of truth by what’s been stated about my repressing the report on the chief. The secondary report was shared with the board a month ago. It has all been done within the law. It’s just the opposite of these charges. I’ve been protecting the chief for two years. You are uninformed and ignorant of the facts.”

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