GLEN ROSE - The city of Glen Rose and Somervell County recently received a new fire protection rating from the Insurance Services Office (ISO) and that means good news for local homeowners.

So what is an ISO rating and how does it affect taxpayers?

"The ISO rating, which usually is done every decade or so, is a direct reflection on the fire department's ability to mitigate an emergency within their community,” Somervell County Fire Chief Mark Crawford explained.

Over the course of five years, the County and City committed themselves to making the necessary improvements that brought the rating from a 5/5 to a 3/3. ISO rates a community on a scale from one to ten, with one being the best fire protection and ten being the worst.

The new rating will have a positive impact on homeowners and business owners’ insurance premiums.

According to Somervell County Fire Marshal, Dwayne Griffin, homeowners could possibly see an average annual decrease of $400 on their insurance rates. The savings equals a little over a $1 million-per year for Somervell County residents.

The three areas evaluated by the ISO are the fire department, emergency management and the water supply. The evaluation of the fire department accounts for 50 percent of the rating, while the assessment of the water supply accounts for 40 percent and emergency management makes up the final 10 percent.  

To improve upon the rating, the Somervell County Fire Department added additional paid personnel, a new ladder truck, upgraded equipment and better training for the department’s firefighters. Encouraged by former county judge Walter Maynard, Crawford developed a five-year budget that factored in any necessary improvements for each year.

That budgeting - in addition to grant money - allowed Crawford to make the changes within the fire department.

The Somervell County Water Department and City of Glen Rose also made improvements on the water supply systems. Those improvements included additional fire hydrants, along with inspections and flow testing of all fire hydrants in the county.

During the evaluation, emergency management through the fire marshal's office scored high on community risk reduction, emergency reporting and communications. The communications division at the Somervell County Sheriff's Department received a perfect score during the assessment.

Not only is the new rating a benefit for homeowners, it also created an upgrade for the Somervell County Fire Department. The department is now ranked in the top-18 percent of fire departments across the state of Texas.

"It brings bragging rights amongst fire departments and is how you are compared in the fire service as a whole," Crawford added.

The new rating won’t go into effect until the county receives the official notification from the State Fire Marshal’s Office, but, once the rating is finalized, homeowner’s will need to contact their insurers to have the rates applied to their residence.

Crawford noted that he was informed by an ISO field tech that insurance companies do not have to honor the new rating, because each insurance company can use their own system of grading.