MAT-SU – Homeowners in the new West Lakes Fire Service Area could begin to save on home insurance thanks to an improved fire protection rating achieved late last year. “We set this goal for our fire department five years ago and have worked hard to see it happen,” said District 2 Chief Bill Gamble.
Fire officials have indentified over 10,100 property owners in the West Lakes Fire Service Area that could potentially save a significant amount of money. In some cases the savings might even be greater than the amount the homeowner pays under the current mill rate for fire protection.
West Lakes Fire Service Area is approximately 92 square miles. Its area of coverage begins northeast of Schrock Road and Lucille Street and extends west on both sides of Big Lake.
To calculate insurance premiums, virtually all U.S. insurance companies use a rating system from the Insurance Services Office called a Public Protection Classification (PPC) number which ranges from 1 to 10. Class one means exemplary fire protection and class 10 means little or no fire protection. As of May 1, 2011, the West Lakes FSA rating will improve from an 8b/10 to a 5/10. Everyone who lives within five road miles of a West Lakes fire station will fall into the PPC 5 category. More than 5 road miles and you’re rated a PPC 10. Almost all of the West Lakes FSA falls into the 5 category, Gamble said.
The ISO PPC rating is just one bench mark fire departments can use as a performance indicator to judge how well they are doing and where they can improve. During an ISO inspection, many things are evaluated, including the dispatch center, water supply, fire trucks, equipment, response times, and the number of responders to emergencies.
“It was a very thorough audit. We started at 8 a.m. and finished around 9 p.m.” Gamble said. “It ended with a performance drill in which we had to respond to a simulated emergency, demonstrate how quickly we could flow water, and then continued with a demonstration of how much water we could flow without interruption for a set period of time. The drill was carried out flawlessly.”
The West Lake Fire Service Area began preparing for this process in 2006 while it was still two separate FSA’s, Big Lake and Meadow Lakes. In 2003, the two fire departments and the ambulance service were merged into one emergency service district. In 2006, as part of their strategic plan, the fire departments and both Boards of Supervisors agreed to go to the voters and ask them to legally consolidate the two fire departments. They had determined that if they were to ever get the ISO rating improved for both communities this had to happen. During the October 2009 election the voters approved the consolidation. Early in 2010 the Mat-Su Borough Assembly approved the purchase of a building to be used as an interim fire station at mile 51.3 of the Parks Highway to make sure there were not any gaps in fire department coverage that were indentified during an earlier ISO visit. The building was purchased and occupied in May of 2010.
Now all the necessary pieces were in place and Chief Gamble called ISO to ask for a short notice audit. “Normally they give you 120 days to prepare, we were given 45.” Gamble said. On August 14, 2010, ISO inspectors showed up and conducted their audit.
“The real story here is about what can be accomplished when a group of people share a vision and implement a plan to make it happen,” Gamble said. “I get to serve an incredible group of responders, diligent Board of Supervisors and supportive Assembly and administration. Everyone is focused on quality, responsive, and cost effective emergency service. This is what we are all about.”
For more information call Chief Bill Gamble at 232-0103 or
We encourage you to contact your insurance agent. For more information go to the West Lakes Fire Service Area web page, or call 892-7750. WestLakeswebpage