A good fire department audit will mean insurance savings - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

A good fire department audit will mean insurance savings

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By Jim Wallace - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The Albany Fire Department has worked for three years preparing for this week's audit by the Insurance Services Office. At stake, possibly a reduction in insurance costs for every businesses and commercial building in the county.

The fire trucks are all polished and working properly, the equipment tested and re-tested. For three years, Albany Firefighters have been improving for this week's Insurance Services Office or ISO audit.

"It's kind of like preparing for the big game. You've done everything you can to improve, now you got to play the game," said Albany Fire Chief James Carswell.

Auditors started their review of the Albany Fire Department this morning, and will continue for the rest of the week. This is Albany's first review since 1988. Currently a three on the ISO rating, Albany Firefighters hope to improve to a 2 or even the very best rating, a one. There are only 43 top one ranked fire services in the entire nation.

The audit will test everything from the 911 center to the fire hydrant water system.

 "They will be flowing hydrants to check the pressure," Carswell said. "They'll be checking the trucks to make sure the equipment is maintained and kept up. Checking training records. Daily manning averages on the trucks."

The auditors are testing to see if the Albany Firefighters have the stuff to put a fire out quickly. The better their ability, the less damage in fires, and the less it costs insurance companies. That lower insurance number could mean hundreds or thousands of dollars in insurance cost savings for commercial and industrial businesses, and a big advantage for economic development.

 "If we are able to improve our rating, then there will be a certain amount of stimulus back into the economy from it," Carswell said.

Albany City and County leaders have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars buying a new aerial truck and building the new emergency training center to raise their ISO standards, and this week the auditors will measure to see if the improvement will pay off.

In their 100 grading, the ISO counts ten points toward the 911 center-  40 points for the water system, and 50 points for the Fire services. A better rating won't affect homeowner's rates.

The fire chief says they're as low as they can get. Macon and Bibb County is the only perfect one rated fire service in Georgia.

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