By David Fleet
Groveland Twp.- Township officials announced last week that effective Aug. 1, the ISO rating has dropped from four to three. The ISO scale for fire protection ranges from 10 to one, the lower the number, the greater the fire protection. Currently in Michigan there are just 31 fire departments that are class three.
The new rating follows an extensive fire department audit that started in December 2017 and was completed in last month. The new rating could mean lower home insurance rates for township residents and business owners as well as outstanding fire protection for the township..
The ISO, International Organization for Standardization, is a network of the national standards institutes of 156 countries making a framework, or a common technological language, between suppliers and their customers. In the case of fire departments like Groveland Township, the ISO provides set standards for fire protection.
Kevin Mason, assistant township fire chief, says a combination of strategically placed fire hydrants, fire stations, and updated equipment has qualified the township for a lower ISO rating, prompting lower house insurance rates for residents.
The extensive testing procedure is based on 10 percent dispatch; 40 percent water supply and 50 percent fire stations which includes trucks, equipment and staffing.
“It was an intensive four month project,” said Mason. “The by-product for residents is getting a much improved fire department. The fire departments number one objective is the lives and property of our residents at the most cost effective price possible. The new ISO proves we can perform the duties, reduces the insurance and not increase our millage.”
Currently, township residents pay 3.94 mills for fire protection, or $394 each year in taxes for a $200,000 home. The fire funds are also supplemented by medical runs to other communities. The average decline in insurance cost should be about 5 percent, said Mason.
Several factors prompted the lower ISO rating.
The addition of a used 75 foot ladder truck for taller buildings; an additional (used) engine truck; new fire hoses; continual intensive twice a month fire and medical training for personnel.
The townships unique MABAS agreement or Mutual Aid Box Alarm System is a regional mutual aid system that incorporates area fire departments such as Brandon, Springfield and Independence townships.
“If we have a fire the other communities get toned out automatically—we don’t have to call them,” he said.
“We have crews on the way to a fire. ‘Our MABAs agreement should be the model for the country,’ we were told by the ISO evaluator.”
Mason said now every business or big structure in the township has its own box alarm.
If a business has a fire on the premise an automatic alert informs firefighters essential information about that building, added Mason.
“It tells us who to call,” he said. “And any special details—such as size of the building, special features or possible obstacles.”
Nine additional water sources were certified in the township over the past few years, including two on the boarder with Brandon Township.
“It made more sense to go outside our (township) boarders,” he said. “The township also has nine self contained wells powered by electric pumps. That pump equipment is tested four times per year.”
In addition to self-contained fire protection wells, Mason says key in the ISO process is the availability of water, including certified lakes or ponds that can be used to draw from in the event of a fire.
The township fire department includes five full-time firefighters and 47 part-time. Two tanker trucks, one equipment truck, one brush fire truck, four life support vehicles. The department services 2,300 households and 70 businesses within the township with a population of about 6,200 residents. Mason says the township also serves an additional 85,000 vehicles that travel I-75 each day. Seasonal visitors to the township include about 20,000 daily visitors to the Renaissance Festival during late summer, about 5,000 to Mt. Holly ski resort and about 2,000 to parks.