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Press and Standard: City improves ISO rating from 5 to 3

By BRANTLEY STRICKLAND editor@lowcountry.com

The City of Walterboro should soon see a decline in insurance rates due to its recently announced improved ISO rating.

Following a recent Public Protection Classification (PPC) evaluation, an evaluation of the fire services staffing, training, equipment as well as communications and water supply, the city obtained a coveted Class 3 rating.

The evaluation, conducted in early February, resulted in the city elevating its rating from a Class 5 to a Class 3.

“It has been an important goal of City Council to improve the city’s ISO fire rating, and we couldn’t be prouder of our dedicated employees for making that happen,” Walterboro Mayor Bill Young said. “This evaluation assures that our citizens are receiving competent and professional fire protection services, and getting more for their money too.”

The two-step improvement was accomplished during a period of geographic growth for the city. It came about after a concerted effort by the city to improve its public safety department’s fire suppression capabilities and the ability to provide appropriate water flow. Large water mains installed throughout the city, particularly in recently annexed areas, helped with the higher rating, according to the study.

The city also recently purchased a fire-truck equipped with a ladder and bucket to improve its fire services.

According to the Insurance Services Office (ISO), “PPC is important to communities and fire departments as well. Communities whose rating improves may get lower insurance rates. PPC also provides fire departments with a valuable benchmark, and is used by many departments as a valuable tool when planning, budgeting, and justifying fire protection improvements.  Our Public Safety Officers work hard every day to provide the citizens of Walterboro with a professional fire service, and it’s great to see this effort and dedication recognized in such a relevant way,” Walterboro Public Safety Chief Otis Rhodes said. “I would also like to thank the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office 911 Dispatching Center for their cooperation and assistance during the evaluation.”

The ISO improvement was accomplished during tight economic times. The city’s property taxes and utility rates were kept low by leveraging millions of dollars in grant money, thereby limiting the burden to taxpayers, according to Walterboro City Manager Jeff Lord.

In 2011, just 6 percent of municipalities nationwide achieved a rating of Class 3 or higher.

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