The town of Cloverdale is up for a re-evaluation of its fire protection rating, but there's been no change yet.
Inspectors from the Insurance Services Office will come to Cloverdale sometime after the New Year to rate the quality of the Cloverdale Township Volunteer Fire Department and fire protection for the town, said Fire Department Chief Kerry Shepherd and an ISO spokesman.
The issue of the ISO evaluation came to a head when outgoing Cloverdale Town Council member John Davis asked Council President Don Sublett about a supposed "downgrade" for the township fire department's rating at the board's Dec. 11 meeting.
Homeowners' insurance rates are, in part, dictated by ISO's fire protection rating for the area and a worse rating could cause insurance rates to increase.
The ISO will make its decision based on three factors: the quality of the fire department (50 percent), the quality of the fire alarms (10 percent) and the amount and quality of available water (40 percent), according to information released by Mike Waters, a vice president for the company.
When ISO inspects a fire department it typically looks at the department's hoses, pumps, trucks and other equipment, as well as training logs for the firefighters, Shepherd said.
The so-called ISO rating is formulated by Jersey City, N.J.-based ISO, which is a multi-national private company that specializes in evaluating insurance risk.
ISO's "Publication Protection Classification" is based on a scale from 1 to 10, with one being exemplary fire coverage and 10 being below ISO's fire protection standards. ISO rates the fire protection in the community, not the quality of the local fire department, though that does play a major factor in the final number.
The town of Cloverdale was first evaluated as an independent fire protection district in 2005, when the town ended its long-standing agreement with the township fire department and founded its own.
The town's rating, which became effective in 2006, is five.
The township was last evaluated in 1995 and its rating is six for homes within 1,000 feet of a fire hydrant and nine for homes beyond 1,000 feet.
The cause for the new rating comes from the town's shift in April 2007 back to the township fire department.
The town started its own fire department in a controversial decision in 2005, after a dispute over the town's share in paying the township fire department's bills.
After political upheaval, the town's fire department was disbanded at the start of 2007 and the township fire department took back over.
Shepherd said he does not expect the town's fire protection rating to get worse with the new inspection because the department has new and better equipment than it did in 1995.
If the rating does fall, ISO gives the community and the local fire department one year to improve its fire protection in order for it to pass muster, Waters said through a spokesman.
ISO would not comment how a rating change might affect insurance rates.