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Sandy Journal

Homeowner insurance premiums should go down slightly, thanks to Sandy City Fire Department’s efforts

Dec 02, 2022 05:52PM ● By Sarah Morton Taggart

By Sarah Morton Taggart | [email protected]

With so many costs going up, Sandy residents can look forward to one thing going down: their homeowners insurance.

Sandy City was recently granted a Class 2 rating under the Insurance Services Office’s (ISO) Public Protection Classification (PPC). For several years, Sandy has been a Class 3 city, which was still pretty good considering that the scale ranges from one to 10, with one being the best.

Most insurance companies use the PPC to help calculate insurance premiums for residential, commercial and industrial properties.

“When you go from a three to a two, or a two to a one or really any jump, that represents a 3% to 5% savings on insurance for the homeowners,” said Deputy Chief Ryan McConaghie when he presented the PPC Summary Report to the Sandy City Council on Oct. 25. “It is a substantial savings to the citizens.”

According to the ISO website, Class 1 generally represents a community with superior fire protection for property. The PPC is a standardized, nationwide system that helps fire departments plan and budget for facilities, equipment and training. Lowered insurance premiums provide an incentive to communities for choosing to improve their firefighting services.

In the recent assessment, Sandy’s fire department scored 85.8 out of 105.5 possible points in the Fire Suppression Rating Schedule (FSRS). This represents an improvement of more than 5 points since the last assessment.

The FSRS looks at three general categories: emergency communications, fire department (including operations and staffing) and available water supply. Sandy scored well in emergency communications, with 9.91 out of 10 possible points, and having sufficient water supply for fire suppression, with 38.67 out of 40 possible points.

There was room to improve in the fire department category with 36.72 out of 50 possible points. The most points were lost in the deployment analysis and company personnel sections.

Though the PPC rating likely won’t be reevaluated until 2027, many adjustments are already being made.

“This process that we went through was done prior to authorization that we were given by Mayor Zoltanski to move to 3/2 staffing,” McConaghie said. “We have, even since this process, gained an additional point and a half for the additional staff that we have started using. Another one was credit for training where we had a couple of points that we could improve on….You can see how a point here, a half a point there, that over time can really add up to where we can make up that ground to get 90 points and hit that Class 1 status.”

Brian Larson, who works for ISO, was on hand to answer questions. He explained that in order to receive the maximum credit for staffing, a community would need an engine company and ladder company in the same station.

“Station 31 is being designed with that in mind,” McConaghie said, referring to a fire station that will be rebuilt before the next ISO assessment.

In 2020, the majority of communities across America were given a Class 5 rating. Less than 1% of communities were rated Class 1. Currently, Salt Lake City and South Salt Lake are the only cities in Utah with Class 1 designations.

“This a huge deal for the city,” said councilmember Zach Robinson. “I want to commend the department, given all the challenges that have been going on lately. Going from three to two is a big, big deal. And I’m encouraged that we’ll be a one soon. We should plaster that on everything.”

McConaghie also presented the department’s strategic plan, which included a review of the planning process and timeline for implementation.

Fire Chief Bruce Cline also provided information about a fire department staff compensation survey being conducted and provided an update on the current staffing levels. Cline anticipates filling eight currently vacant positions by May 2023.

“I also want to thank the crews that did a big part of this,” Cline said. “Flowing the hydrants every year, doing the training every year, doing the business inspections every year. It’s our crews out there doing the everyday work so that the number is going down.”