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Fire rates may fall
ISO ratings improve; rural residents may see change
121407 VOLUNTEER FIRE 2web
In this Herald file photo from 2007, Elena Murray, right, and engineer Chris Kelley of the Register Volunteer Fire Department run an annual hose test. With improvments in fire protection, Register's ISO rating dropped on May 1, which lowered insurance premiums for most residents. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/Herald File

    The formation of the Bulloch County Fire Department and its subsequent construction of fire substations throughout the county have paid off. For most Bulloch County residents, the ISO (Insurance Services Office) ratings was lowered, effective Saturday, May 1, to Class 5, said Bulloch County Fire Chief Randy Walker.
    Most of the county's rural areas had an ISO rating of Class 9, with some as high as Class 10, he said.  Brooklet had an ISO rank of class 6; Portal was Class 8 and Register was Class 7. All have been lowered to class five, due to the ISO study last summer, where investigators took training, facilities and other criteria into consideration, he said.
    ISO investigators spent two weeks studying Bulloch County's fire services, 911 and water availability, he said.
    Some remote areas throughout the county still have a high ISO rating of 10, he said. These areas are more than five miles from a fire station or substation, "but that will change," he said, adding that funds for more fire substations will be included in the budget for next year, which comes into effect July 1.
    "We have plans to build more fire substations" that will result in lowering ISO ratings for the areas still not affected by current reductions, he said.
    The lowered ISO ratings can mean a reduction in insurance costs from 50 to 65 percent, Walker said.
    Individuals should check with their insurance provider to see what their current ISO rating is, and if the rating has changed, request an adjustment to the premiums.
    Bulloch County Public Safety Director Ted Wynn praised Walker and all Bulloch County firefighters for "the hard work these volunteers put in and the many hours they put in to make this possible." He also expressed appreciation to Bulloch County Commissioners for budgeting the substation construction.
    "This is just the beginning of great things to come out of the Bulloch County Fire Department," he said.
      Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at 489-9414.