Local News

New AP fire rating may save residents money

— Some Avon Park homeowners will be saving money now that the city’s fire rating has been upgraded.

Capt. David Cloud of the Avon Park Fire Department said the Insurance Services Office, based in New Jersey, upgraded Avon Park’s fire rating from a 4 to a 3, making it one of the top-rated such entities in the nation.

Cloud said owners of homes and businesses in the city limits of Avon Park are encouraged to contact their insurance agents to see if their rates will drop. One limiting factor is not all insurance companies base rates on those ratings, he said.

There’s no estimate available regarding the amount of potential reductions because each structure has individual characteristics that affect the rating.

Sebring was notified earlier this year that its rating was being upgraded from a 5 to a 3. It was the first time Sebring’s rating had been upgraded since 1995.

Cloud said Avon Park was last evaluated in 2006.

The ISO upgraded the rating this time for Avon Park based on one factor, Cloud said. That involved dispatch of calls to the fire department.

The city’s contract with the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office for dispatching was a key to the improvement, he said. Now, there are three different ways firefighters can be dispatched: by the paging system, radio and telephone, he said.

“That’s (the communications system) what kept us from going to a 3 back then,” Cloud said.

The ISO also looks at water supply, response times and the number of firefighters, among other things.

Sebring’s rating improved at least partly because of the purchase of new vehicles, Fire Chief Brad Batz said earlier this year.

Sebring also contracts with the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office for dispatching.

As a result of the upgrades, Sebring and Avon Park fire departments are among 3,220 fire departments nationwide that have the top three ratings. Information from ISO shows that nationwide 60 fire departments have a rating of 1, 750 are rated 2 and 2,410 are rated three.

The remainder of the more than 40,000 fire departments have a rating from 5 to 10, with 10 meaning there’s almost no protection.

Cloud said that as Avon Park grows, more fire stations and firefighters could be needed to maintain the rating. But no decisions have been made regarding that, he said.

The fire department also will look at improving the services to a 2 rating, he said.


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