The Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District is discussing ways to avoid a lower fire protection classification by the Insurance Services Office (ISO).
At the district’s Board of Trustees meeting Monday night, an intense conversation was sparked about the topic. A lower rating from the ISO could raise insurance premiums for those living within the district’s boundaries.
According to the ISO’s website, the company evaluates fire-protection efforts in communities across the country.
“So insurance companies use PPC (Public Protection Classification program) to help establish fair premiums for fire insurance—generally offering lower premiums in communities with better protection,” the website said.
The district is currently classified as a split rating of 5/10. Five for properties within a five-mile radius of a fire station, and 10 for those outside of that radius. That rating was given to the district back in 1990, before fire stations 2 and 3 were built. Now that the additional stations are in place, the ISO’s new proposed rating is 6 for the entire district.
The district's Board of Trustees is not pleased with this and largely blames their current dispute with the village of Barrington. The organizations have recently agreed to terminate their existing contract and end their relationship. The factor that led to this decision was the district’s wish to hire additional manpower and purchase a new water tanker at the district’s expense. The village denied their request, stating more staff and equipment isn’t needed.
“ISO is a supportive organization that wants you to be successful,” Trustee Paul Heinze said. “There isn’t any reason that we should have slipped from a 5 to a 6. Why? What are they talking about? Water, manpower, response time. Good heavens! The things that we have been scoring so poorly on have been blocked by the village of Barrington Trustees,” he said.
Village Manager Jeff Lawler spoke to the Daily Herald about the subject. He told the Daily Herald that mutual-aid agreements and the encouragement of sprinkler systems is of greater value than purchasing another tanker.
District Trustees say recent fires prove that mutual-aid cannot always be relied upon. A Sept. 24 fire on Otis Road in Barrington Hills completely destroyed a home. Heinze says the lack of manpower and water is to blame.
Tankers, manpower and other equipment coming to the fire via mutual-aid from surrounding fire districts were stopped by a freight train while driving to the blaze. Some crews didn’t arrive at the scene of the fire for almost an hour after the box alarm was pulled, trustees said.
“There was less than five minutes of water (from the Barrington tanker). Is that satisfactory in your philosophy of depending on your neighbors?” Heinze said.
The district does have a plan in place to try and increase it's proposed ISO rating.
“We would like to work with ISO and run some scenarios to see how much we can improve with the addition of what our additional stations will do for us, and what an additional tender and/or service vehicle will do for us,” Board of Trustees president Tom Rowan said.
Read more about the dispute between the BCFPD and the village of Barrington and read both parties letters to terminate the existing contract.