Effective June 1, homeowners in the City of Greenwood should see the benefit of the fire departments recent drop in ISO.
Greenwood Fire Chief Stewart Bryan stated that the department was notified in March that their ISO rating had gone from a three to a two. Most homeowners will reap that benefit in savings with their insurance policy.
Bryan credits several measures for the improved rating. Fire prevention education, which he implemented after becoming chief 14 years ago, is among those measures. Bryan designed an educational program geared towards each school age group. “We do a lot,” shared Bryan. “We are out at the Freedom Festival, Halloween, car show and we host the kids down here at the station. We also go to the schools.” Bryan estimates that the department reaches around 3,000 children each year with fire prevention education.
Fire prevention and educating youth is at the heart of the department’s operation. One of the films Bryan shows to students demonstrates the importance of not going back into the house when there is a fire. “It really struck home with me,” shared Bryan. “I believe it was in 2005, we had a little girl die in a fire. We believe she went back in after the dog, and when mom and brother left out the back door and got to the neighbor’s house, they turned around and she was gone…so that touches home”
Bryan went on to add that the education program isn’t the main reason for the ISO 2 rating. “50% of it is fire department, 40% is your water distribution and 10% is dispatch.” With ISO, departments are scored on each of these. The Greenwood Fire Department received a total combined score of 82. “We scored four points more than last time,” Bryan added.
The City of Greenwood is also a Firewise community. The program provides a framework to help neighbors get organized, find direction, and take action to increase the ignition resistance of their homes and community.
Another contributing factor, according to Bryan, was the department’s training. “We changed our training program…We went from having one meeting a month, to three.” Those meetings provide opportunities for the 33 man volunteer department to train in things such as hazmat and live burns. “We train like we fight, and I make sure they have the best gear we can.”
Lastly, Bryan stated that improvements with the city’s water system also contributed to the rating. Those improvements include more water hydrants and larger capacity water lines.
Approximately six years ago, the department began doing hydrant maintenance. It gets the guys acquainted with where the hydrants are located, and it’s a PR opportunity too,” added Bryan. “If kids see our guys out there, we give them a hat.”
Equipment upgrades and “forward thinking” are also elements of the department’s successful rating. Bryan has worked to initiate a 15 year plan, and according to him, “we’re almost there.”
When Bryan first began his career with the department in the late 1980’s, the ISO rating was a 7. With his leadership, the cooperation of the City Council and Mayor Doug Kinslow, the Greenwood Fire Department holds the second highest rating with the Insurance Services Office.