Results from a recent evaluation by the Insurance Services Offices places Dawson County in a lower insurance classification, which should translate into lower insurance premiums for many county residents.
Dawson County Emergency Services Director Lanier Swafford said he was pleased with the county's new 3/10 ISO classification, down from a 5/10 in 2010.
"I feel very good about the grade, but what I will say is this, it proves to us that those people who are not within the five road miles, we have a bigger obligation now to try to find a way to get them fire protection," he said.
The 3 rating applies to properties within five miles of a recognized fire station and within 1,000 feet of a fire hydrant or alternate water supply, while the 10 applies to properties beyond 1,000 feet of a hydrant but within five road miles of a station.
The number of fire station ands and staffing is where Dawson County took the biggest hits in scoring.
"It's not a knock toward anywhere in the county. It's development. It's growth. There are still areas in the county where we don't have hydrants," Swafford said. "We have an obligation when it comes to strategic planning and working with the board of commissioners to find ways to provide as many people optimal fire protection as we can, based on the rating scale."
The Insurance Safety Office is an independent company and leading source of information concerning property and casualty insurance on community fire suppression capabilities.
Class 1 generally represents superior fire protection, while Class 10 indicates the community does not meet minimum ISO standards.
Carla Boutin, a local State Farm Insurance agent, said the new Class 3 rating, which takes effect March 1, should result in lower premiums for property owners.
"This is great news for property owners. It will certainly reduce their premiums," she said.
The fire department evaluation of engine companies, reserve pumpers, pump capacity, ladder service, reserve ladders and trucks, deployment analysis, personnel, training and operational considerations scored 30.14 out of a possible 50 points.
"This score is reflective of community support, equipment and manpower," according to Swafford. "Improvements in response times, improvements in equipment and additional staffing will positively impact this grade as we move to the future."
Water supply received 25.78 credits out of 40.
Emergency communications received a perfect 10 point credit, while community risk reduction, which was a new criteria for 2015, was scored at 5.01 of the 5.50 credits available.
"I feel real good about that, because this is the first time they've ever counted prevention," Swafford said. "This solid score is a reflection of prevention programs that reach all ages, strong investigative practices into origin and cause of fires, and solid, but fair safety inspection practices within Dawson County."