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ISO rating of Falls City department improves

FALLS CITY — The fire department in Falls City received unexpected good news when the city’s Insurance Service Office (ISO) rating moved up a point.    The ISO evaluates fire protection services and risks for a community or city and assigns a “Community Protection Rating” between one and 10, with one being the best.   After a January evaluation, Falls City is now rated a four. The city had been assigned a five since the mid-1990s. ISO provides the information to insurance companies, so the improvement could lower insurance rates for businesses and homes in the city.   “It was really surprising to me,” said Bob Young, Falls City’s fire chief. “Most fire departments in the area are going up, so it went really well. … I was pretty happy to say the least.”   ISO evaluates a community’s fire department (personnel and equipment) water supply, water flow capability and emergency communications. Falls City was scored in each of those categories and received 66.31 out of 105.5 possible points, which is less than four points from scoring a three. Bob Young   Young said the city may be able to earn those points by performing water flow and fire hydrant testing, and planning ahead and training for attacking fires in some of the city’s commercial buildings.    The other possible areas for scoring more points the department may not have the time or the money to do. Young said the city’s score would improve if the department purchased a ladder truck, hired more full-time staff, or devoted more time to training for fire suppression.    Falls City scored about three out of nine possible points on training, but Young said that rating is deceptive.   Young said he would like to spend more time on fire suppression training, but about 75 percent of the department’s calls are from medical or motor vehicle accident calls, which also require training.    “There just isn’t enough hours in the year to get to everything on our drill nights,” he said.   Young said he is planning to contact the evaluator to see if the city could improve flow and hydrant testing in the next year and be re-evaluated to earn a higher rating.    “I would think, if we made a three rating, for a city our size, that is pretty good,” Young said. “For a volunteer department, it doesn’t get much better than that.”

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