Fire protection efforts can lower homeowner's insurance

By Donna McCollum - bio | email

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Homeowner insurance is based on an independent rating that scores fire protection. The higher the score, the higher the insurance. "There are 10 ratings and that's the same as not having any fire protection at all," Ken Awtrey, coordinator of the Pineywoods Resource Conservation & Development, Inc. said. "Volunteer fire departments can do just a little bit and show they can get it down to a 9 real easy. And a lot of these folks have gone down as far as 4's and 5's."

That would describe departments throughout Arkansas where a statewide effort to improve ISO ratings is underway. Following that state's lead were departments serving Lake Nacogdoches and Appleby in Nacogodoches County.

"And my insurance rates went down about 23%," Mike Center, an Appleby homeowner shared. Center is saving over $200 annually on his insurance, about three times what he pays in fire protection taxes.

The fire district rating went from a 10 to a 5 following years of improvements. As an insurance agent by profession, Center commends pro active rural fire departments for keeping costs down to the customer. "We have some of the highest homeowners insurance rates in the United States in Texas. So, that's something people are concerned about," Center said.

Volunteer firefighters improve ISO ratings by taking a variety of measures, including installing efficient water lines, hydrants, and equipment. "Classifications relate only to structure fires and a lot of volunteer fire departments have brush vehicles," Rodney Kelley, volunteer fire department program coordinator with the Texas Department of Rural Affairs said. "They can buy vehicles that will also help them with structural fires, if they buy the right equipment."

Some of the mystery on how to achieve all that will come from experts at a free seminar in Palestine on January 16th sponsored by rural protection advocate agencies. Homeowners should be demanding their vfd's attend in an effort to achieve lower insurance rates. Homeowners can benefit too by learning what role they can play in helping the fire departments reach the goal.

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The Texas Department of Rural Affairs, The Four Resource Conservation and Developments Councils along with the State Firemen's and Fire Marshal's Association are hosting a regional Insurance Service Office (ISO) training workshop on Saturday, January 16, 2010  at the Anderson County Courthouse Annex 730 North Mallard, (one block north of the courthouse)  in Palestine, TX. A grant will help fund the cost of all training materials but a registration fee of $5.00 will help pay for the cost of the catered meal.

Charles Gangluff with the Arkansas Rural Fire Protection Program will be our principal speaker.  A Fire Chief with his local fire department, he will take us through the process that he used to get his rural volunteer fire department from an ISO Class rating of 9 to an ISO Class rating of 6.  The Texas Department of Insurance estimates the savings in insurance premiums on a wood siding house to be over 26%.

This training specifically targets fire departments with an ISO class of 9 or 10 but the materials and information provided will assist any fire department in improving their ISO classification.

Jesse Williams, Deputy State Fire Marshal, Public Protection Classification Oversight Officer and Phillip Bradley, Assistance Manger ISO, will provide information on the Texas Addendum to the ISO rating schedule and information on ISO in Texas.

Joe Fox, Grant Coordinator with the Texas Forest Service will discuss grants and funding assistance to rural fire departments available through Texas Forest Service.

Jimmy Woodard, Emergency Services District Coordinator with the Texas Department of Rural Affairs will discuss ESD's and provide information to assist fire departments.

A representative with the State Firemen's and Fire Marshal's Association will be on hand

to discuss issues with volunteer fire departments.

Roy Mercer with VFIS will have a presentation on recruitment and retention for volunteer fire departments.

For information about this workshop, please call Rodney Kelley, Volunteer Fire Program Coordinator, Texas Department of Rural Affairs at (903) 683 4251 or email to



7:45 AM – 8:15 AM                REGISTRATION

8:15 AM – 8:30 AM                WELCOME, INTRODUCTION & REMARKS

                                                Rodney Kelley – Texas Department of Rural Affairs

                                                Ken Awtrey – Coordinator,  Pineywoods  RC&D

                                                Allen Russell – State Fireman's and Fire Marshals Association

                                                Phillip Bradley- Asst. Manager, ISO

                                                Jesse Williams – Deputy State Fire Marshal, SFMO

8:30 AM – 10:00AM               Improving Public Protection Classification

Charles Gangluff- Arkansas Fire Program Manager

10:00 AM – 10:15AM             Break

10:15 AM – 11:30 AM                        Improving PPC Classification

                                                Charles Gangluff- Arkansas Fire Program Manager

11:30 AM – 11:45 AM                        Texas Fire Service Grants Program

                                                Joe Fox

11:45 AM – 2:00 PM              Lunch/ Recruitment and Retention

                                                Roy Mercer

2:00 PM – 2:15PM                  Dave Crawford, Appleby Volunteer Fire Department

2:15PM – 2:30 PM                  Break

2:30PM – 3:15 PM                  Texas Addendum to ISO's Rating Schedule           

                                                Jesse Williams, Deputy State Fire Marshal

                                                Phillip Bradley, Assistant Manager, ISO

                                                                                                                                                        3:15 PM – 4:45 PM                        Improving PPC Classification

                                                Charles Glangluff, Arkansas Program Manager     

4:45 PM- 5:00PM                   Jimmy Woodard, Emergency Services District Coordinator

                                                Texas Department of Rural Affairs

Please pass this to interested individuals in the fire department.


Anderson County Courthouse Annex

730 North Mallard

Palestine, TX


Saturday, January 16, 2010

8:00 A.M.


Fire Department                                                                                  County


City                                                                 State                            Zip Code

Participant's Name                                                                              Title

Phone                                                                                      email

Participant Name                                                                                Title

Phone                                                                                      email

REGISTRATION FEE of $5.00 PER PERSON  If registered by January 8, 2010    Registration Fee Date of Training   $10.00 per person                                                     

Please send to:

Pineywoods RC&D

118 E. Hospital,  Suite 103

Nacogdoches, TX 75961

Phone:  (936) 568-0414

Fax:      (936) 552- 8917