City keeps quality fire ratingPublished 10:05am Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Albert Lea city officials on Monday announced the city has maintained its public protection classification rating first assigned in 2001.
The rating is used by insurance companies to determine insurance rates and by private industry to help evaluate a community’s safety level.
Communities are ranked 1 to 10 by the Insurance Services Office Inc., with 1 being an exemplary fire suppression program and 10 being a program that does not meet minimum criteria.
Albert Lea was given a Class 3 rating.
The rate was calculated after reviewing the Albert Lea Fire Department, response times, equipment, manpower, fire alarm response systems and water supply issues.
According to a news release sent out by the city, the rating places Albert Lea among the top 5.6 percent of more than 48,000 rated communities in the United States and only one of 39 communities in Minnesota to receive the rating.
Albert Lea City Manager Chad Adams said city officials were pleased to learn that the city would retain a Class 3 rating.
“The lower Class 3 rating (with 1 being exemplary and 10 poor) is good for Albert Lea as it generally results in lower fire insurance premiums to properties, whereas a higher ISO rating may involve higher premiums,” Adams said.
Interim Albert Lea Fire Chief Dwaine Winkels said the rating will go hand-in-hand with a study of the Fire Department currently under way. The study is expected to be completed in May and will look at whether there should be changes in staffing for the department, what should be done with the existing fire station and who should lead the department.
The evaluation comes as city leaders are studying the efficiency of the department while steering the city through tight budget times.
Winkels said there is a potential that if the city lowers manpower in the department, that this could lower the city’s rating.
He said to qualify for a higher rating — either a 1 or 2 — would mean a significant financial contribution, including adding more manpower, erecting a training tower and making minor changes to the water supply.