McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

State House

May 8, 2014

Waukomis improves ISO grade to 4/4y

WAUKOMIS, Okla. — Waukomis officials are expecting an improved grade for fire protection to go into effect on July 1.

The town’s ISO grade is expected to decrease from the current 5/8b grade to a 4/4y, according to Waukomis Fire Chief Clarence Maly.

Maly said the first number in the grade is the town’s grade, while the second number in the grade pertains to the rural areas within five miles of the fire station’s doors.

“That’s what we were trying to improve on, was to get the rural area around the town a better rating and we did, considerably,” he said.

Maly said the rural areas have been provided with fire protection, but the fire department did not have the water capabilities it has today.

“Right now, when we leave the station doors, we have 9,000 gallons of water going with us on any structure fire within our district. It gives us a better chance to save property,” he said.  

The grades are given by the Insurance Services Office, a private organization that rates communities on fire protection ability. The grading is done on a scale of one through 10 — with one being the most effective at protection and 10 having little to no protection.

Grades are focused on three different areas, with 50 percent of the grade being the fire department, 40 percent being water supply and 10 percent being fire calls and dispatch of those calls.

Maly said the community had the current ISO grade for about a year and a half.

He said the new 4/4y grade is good.

“(Waukomis is) one of the first ones in the county, or this part of the country, or this part of the state that’s got a 4y,” Maly said. “It’s a pretty good rating. We’re pretty proud of it anyway.”

Improved grades may decrease insurance rates for some homeowners in the community.

The fire department purchased a second engine a year and a half ago, but it could not be counted until the most recent grade testing because engines have to be in service for 12 months before being counted, Maly said.

The department also purchased a new 3,000-gallon tanker to help improve water transportation capabilities.

Improvements have been made possible through a county fire sales tax first instituted in 1996, Maly said.

At that time, the community’s ISO grade was at a nine.

Proceeds from the tenth of a penny tax are distributed to 12 volunteer fire departments in the county, he said. Each department receives about $6,000 per month.

“It lets us help fund our fire departments, plus buy new equipment and everything else,” he said. “I think out of the 12 fire departments, everybody’s improved their ISO rating at least one notch.”

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