Texas is the third most expensive state in the country due to hurricanes, drought and fires, Lt. Mike Miller of the Abilene Fire Department says.
Around 90% of insurance companies base their rates through the Insurance Services Offices. The nationwide company rates cities across the country based on how accessible and updated their dispatch center, water services and fire department are. Lt. Miller says that the better the rating, the lower the insurance rates.
"ISO gives a city a Public Protection Classification rating from 1 through 10," Lt. Miller says. "One being the best and ten as the worst."
Last year, the city of Abilene ranked as number three which wasn't considered bad. According to Lt. Miller, they wanted the best rating so they made some improvements throughout all three departments.
"We worked on specific equipment and tools that is normally behind-the-scenes," Lt. Miller said. "We spent a little bit of money on some of those thing but we feel like it's a great investment for the city and the citizens."
Their biggest investment is adding the Compressed Air Foam System (CAFS), a $100,000 retrofit project that spray foams with water when battling a fire.
"We use less water and the foam tends to sit down on what's burning and stop it from reigniting," adds Lt. Miller.
ISO checks how much the water system can provide, in what pressure and how many hydrants in the city. For the dispatch call center, they check the number of phone lines and how many people work at the same time.
"A lot of work has been put into this."
Last summer, the State Fire Marshal's office recognized the city for their work in receiving the class one rating. However, homes by the lake which is still part of the city of Abilene is seeing the ratings go the opposite way, according to Lt. Miller. He says it's because there aren't fire stations nearby.
Nevertheless, Lt. Miller assures that home and and business owners in Abilene still has one of the lowest insurance rates even if people don't see a huge difference. He adds that homeowners in communities with a class 9 rating have fire losses 65% higher than those in class 5.
Abilene is also one of 60 communities nationwide with a class one rating.
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