Johnsonville Fire District earns Class 3 ISO rating - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Johnsonville Fire District earns Class 3 ISO rating

JOHNSONVILLE, SC (WMBF) - Johnsonville Fire District has become the only rural fire district in South Carolina without fire hydrants throughout the entire district to receive a Class 3 ISO rating.

"It means a lot for property saving, which ISO is considered with, but we're looking at life safety," Johnsonville Fire Chief Kerry Tanner said. "Minutes make a difference in a lot of things, but in fire service, seconds count."

It takes a fire department several months to get all of the information together for an Insurance Service Organization survey, which now happens every five years, Chief Tanner said.

An ISO agent evaluates the department staff and their training as well as the records for every piece of equipment a fire station has. The water department is also surveyed to determine how many hydrants are in the area and the water supply during peak and non-peak times. ISO looks at the radio communications system and response times as well.

All of the information is then compiled into a classification between one and ten with one being the best possible score, providing the greatest possibility for insurance savings.

Property owners saw a 50 percent decrease in insurance rates when the fire district went from a Class 8 to a Class 6 then a 25 percent savings when it changed to a Class 4.

Johnsonville Fire District recently earned a Class 3, which Chief Tanner said is mainly the result of the district's ability to haul water to the scene when hydrants aren't available and also Florence County's decision to consolidate the fire districts, providing the districts with more resources.

"We used to have to wait for the volunteers to be notified by their pager, get up out of bed, come to the fire station, get ready and drive an x number of miles," he said. "Now, there's somebody here. The alarm goes off. The truck can get out immediately."

The district now has four full-time and six part-time firefighters along with 32 volunteers.

"They'll be on duty all day every day seven days a week, so that our response time is cut drastically from an eight minute response time now to a two minute response," Chief Tanner said.

The district also has a new fire station opening in Kingsburg and another station is getting ready to be built to replace the main station, which the district has outgrown.

The Class 3 rating goes into effect in August, so people will begin to see savings after that, Chief Tanner said.

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