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Buckhannon's ISO Rating Improves; Main Focus Turns to Staffing

January 15, 2023

Mountaineer News

Buckhannon City Council

L-R: City Councilman CJ Rylands, Buckhannon Fire Captain Joey Baxa, Buckhannon Fire Chief J.B. Kimble and Mayor Robbie Skinner

BUCKHANNON - During the January 5th Buckhannon City Council Meeting, Buckhannon Fire Chief J.B. Kimble and Mayor Robbie Skinner announced a positive change to Buckhannon's ISO (The Insurance Services Offices) rating, which improved from a Public Protection Class 4 to a Public Protection Class 3.

"We have some very good news to present this evening. The City of Buckhannon, as every community in the country is rated with the fire service as well as the water service that comes up with an ISO rating for your community, and that affects your insurance policies," Skinner said.

"When myself and Mr. Ryland's became council members, we were a Protection Class 5, the scale is from 1-10. We are now a Protection Class 4, so that’s an improvement,,, 1 is the best, 10 is the worst. But tonight, we announce very proudly that we are a Protection Class 3 community," Skinner said.

ISO ratings are based on three factors: local emergency communications, fire department equipment/staffing and water supply.

Mayor Skinner made the announcement with Chief Kimble and Buckhannon Fire Captain Joey Baxa:

After the announcement, Mayor Skinner thanked the Fire Department and elaborated on what the rating means for Buckhannon.

"We want to thank our fire department for all the work that they do year in and year out as well as our water department. You can't put a fire out without water and also, you can't put a fire out without great equipment... and even better, professionals on staff. This is a community effort," Skinner said.

"And, just so you know, what these numbers represent on residential property insurance, each classification reduction, depending on your insurance company, can be a 10% savings per year on your coverage. On commercial, it can be up to 25%, depending on what the size commercial development that you have. So, it’s a cost-saving measure and benefit for our community," he said.

"And the other side of the coin is, there are Fortune 500 companies that will not even begin to look at a community to locate in unless your community protection class is 3 or better. So, this is really important for us, and I'm certainly very proud of our fire department, as I know all of our council members are as well, and the work that they have put in to make this happen," he said.

"We're a very strong 3. In fact, we're only 6 points away from a 2, so that gives us some things to work on once we have a full-fledged training facility up and running. That will give us some significant points for becoming a 2, which the Council is supportive of and we've had multiple discussions around that," he concluded.

Watch Mayor Skinner elaborate on what the new Public Protection Class 3 rating means for Buckhannon:

Chief Kimble then addressed Council and went into further details regarding the results of the most recent ISO evaluations and detailed the areas that still require improvement.

“I want to thank Council and the Mayor your backing, and I want to thank the Water Department. Jerry Wamsley attended our ISO class that we had a little over a year ago, and we really got in-depth on what the Water Department needed to do, and the 911 Center did what they had to do. It’s great news… but we still have room to improve,“ Kimble said.

Kimble advised contacting your insurance agent to inquire about any potential discount if you don’t notice a slight drop in your property insurance; The rating went into effect on January 1st, 2023. He stated that State Farm uses a different calculation; They take ISO into consideration but utilize a zip code method, but “... most insurance companies use ISO as their go-to, so if you have homeowner’s insurance, as of 01-01-2023 we’re a Class 3,” Kimble said.

Residents outside city limits within Buckhannon Fire Department’s first-due area zone also received the same rating.

Chief Kimble detailed 3 categories that were needed for improvement: Training, deployment and manpower/staffing/calls.

"There’s the three things we lack a lot of points in. Two of them we are working on. We’re trying to gain more volunteers. That’s the biggest thing at this point right now…. we need to look at staffing, whether it’s volunteer or on the career side," he said.

He also stated that there were divergence points to be gained back, which would almost achieve a 2 rating once complete.

Watch Buckhannon Fire Chief J.B Kimble address City Council regarding the most recent ISO rating:

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