The Carroll County Fire Department recently announced improved ratings from the Insurance Services Office, which could mean lower insurance rates for some Carroll County residents. Chief Scott Blue said the new ISO ratings, as well as new equipment upgrades for his firefighters, are a welcome improvement for much of Carroll County.
ISO ratings measure a community’s firefighting capacity by assessing fire department personnel, equipment, response time, and other factors that relate to firefighting in Carroll County. The ISO scores its rating on a 1-10 scale, with 1 being the best possible score.
“We improved our ISO rating from a class 5 last year to a class 3 this year,” said Blue. “We get a class 3 rating for areas in our county within 5 miles of a fire station and have a credible water source within 1,000 ft.”
Blue said the department has been working to upgrade the training of its firefighters, as well as upgrading their equipment, in order to achieve better ISO ratings for Carroll County.
“That’s one of the big reasons we are building new fire stations in some parts of the county,” said Blue. “If you don’t live within 5 miles, then you are automatically considered class 10, which means you’ll have higher insurance premiums.”
He noted that the county is anticipating construction on Carroll County’s newest fire station on Tyus Road to be finished in late August.
“We are planning to staff the station with volunteer firefighters and also have some of our staff there on a part-time basis,” said Blue. “It should be open and ready to respond within a month.”
Carroll County Fire Department also purchased new fire trucks in recent years.
“ In the last three years, we’ve purchased six new fire engines, or what we call pumpers,” said Blue. “We also purchased four new brush trucks, which are 4-wheel drive trucks equipped with water pumps that allow us to reach places where we can’t get a fire truck.”
Blue said the new trucks are part of a long-term replacement plan for the department to regularly update its stations with the latest engines and equipment. Carroll County obtained funding through a grant last year to replace the hoses on its trucks.
Blue highlighted some of the department’s other new gear upgrades.
“In the last few years we’ve purchased new turnout gear, which is the protective clothing that firefighters wear,” said Blue. “Each firefighter wears about $2,500 worth of gear in order to respond to fires and other calls. A lot of our new upgrades have been funded through various grants. The new gear we now have is lighter and much more maneuverable.”
The department has recently added five thermal imaging cameras which allow firefighters to have greater visibility when working to rescue fire victims.
“It’s not at all like you see in the movies when you are in a structure fire,” said Blue. “You can’t see anything when you’re actually at a fire. Visibility is zero. By using these thermal cameras, firefighters can see victims much easier. Most of these new cameras we have were obtained through grant funding.”
The county plans to begin construction in the coming months on another new fire station, which will be located at Highway 166 and Jonesville Road in Bowdon. Blue said he is pleased with the county’s recent commitment to increasing his department’s fire readiness.
“We are still recovering from the economic recession that the whole county went through, which took a toll on a lot of our stations,” said Blue. “We are now seeing recovery in a lot of areas that were affected by that. In the big picture, we’re continuing to move forward and make more positive changes for the safety and security our citizens.”