Stuart maintains a strong fire safety rating

Oct 4, 2011

The following article was posted to the TCPalm website on October 4, 2011:

Stuart maintains a strong fire safety rating

By Jim Mayfield

The results of a recent insurance industry review of key Stuart municipal services will help keep property insurance premiums steady for residents of Stuart and Sewall’s Point.

Late last month, New Jersey-based Insurance Services Office Inc., gave the city’s building, water and fire/rescue departments a 3 rating, which is provided to insurance companies to consider in underwriting and calculating insurance premiums.

According to ISO’s Web site, the company has been providing statistical and claims data along with information about specific locations to the insurance industry since 1971.

“We were rated a 3 on a scale of one to 10, which is really outstanding,” said Stuart Fire Chief Lori Sunderman. The lower the rating number, the better the result, Sunderman said.

The city’s fire protection was evaluated on a variety of factors, including response times and the number of personnel available to respond, training regimen, equipment and apparatus, number of sprinkler-equipped buildings in the city, dispatch procedures, mutual aid agreements and water flow, Sunderman said.

“We have an excellent (city) water system, and (the results) had a lot to do with our water system,” Sunderman said.

The department received its first 3 rating in 1995 before it annexed a significant amount of property and before providing fire/rescue services to Sewall’s Point under an interlocal agreement that began Oct. 1, 2010.

Sunderman said maintaining the low ISO rating despite increasing the department’s service area without adding additional personnel was gratifying.

“We’re just very happy to keep it,” she said.

Stuart City Manager Paul Nicoletti said the rating will positively affect private property insurance premiums within the city but a specific, across-the-board projection could not be made because of the variety of properties and formulas for calculating insurance rates.

Sewall’s Point residents stand to gain the most from the latest review since switching from county to city fire services last year, as Stuart’s rating is better than Martin County for urban areas.

Martin County is currently studying how to improve on its 5/9 ISO rating for urban and rural areas, respectively.

“We’re very happy with the results. I haven’t heard any complaints,” said Sewall’s Point Town Manager Robert Kellogg.

“We’re glad (Stuart has) the quality department they have, and we look forward to them continuing to provide service to us,” Kellogg said.

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