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New ISO ratings mean a safer county

POSTED: January 13, 2010 4:00 a.m.

The Monday after Christmas Dawson County Emergency Services opened a present it had been waiting on.

  

Results from an October evaluation by the Insurance Services Offices, known as ISO, places Dawson County in a lower insurance classification, which translates into lower insurance premiums for many county residents, said Billy Thurmond, director of emergency services.

  

Dawson County will have a public protection classification split 5/10, while the City of Dawsonville will have a 3/10 split classification.

  

“This latest evaluation puts approximately 92 percent of the residents of the county and city into one of the lower [public protection] classifications,” Thurmond said.

  

A  little more than 12 percent of the nation holds a 5 rating, while only 2.5 percent have a PPC 3 rating, he added.

  

The new rating, which takes effect April 1, also means more than 90 percent of the populated areas of the county are within 5 road miles of a fire station, according to Emergency Services Chief Lanier Swafford.

  

“Even though we are pleased at these ratings, we’re still committed to addressing the areas that are still at class 10,” Swafford said.

  

There are several areas on Elliott Family Parkway, Sweetwater Juno Road and Hwy. 136 that fall into the 10 classification. Swafford said a new fire station planned for Keith Evans Road would reduce the rating.

  

“This rating will potentially save homeowners some on their insurance premium, which will be in return for their investment,” Swafford said. “Much of what we’ve done was sales and impact fee funded. Those tax dollars allowed us to make the improvements that brought these ratings.”

  

Revenue from the county’s 1-cent sales tax purchased four new pumper trucks, while impact fees, paid by developers, provided funding for two service trucks and the equipment for three additional trucks already in the fire department’s fleet.

  

The addition of trucks, paired with constructing a new training fire and emergency training facility with flammable liquids pit in the last year were all contributing factors in the lower rating, Swafford said.

  

Dawson County’s last ISO evaluation was in 2008, 20 years after its first.

At that time the rating dropped from a 7/9/10 split classification to a 6/10 in the county and 4/10 in the city.

  

County officials were given 12 months to make additional improvements and request a re-evaluation.

  

“These new ratings are the direct reflection of the hard work and dedication of our emergency services staff, because without their efforts and the support of the board of commissioners and the city, these ratings would still be a goal and not a reality,” Swafford said.

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