On Aug. 1, Chief Peter Tyc officially received the Middlefield Volunteer Fire Company’s Public Protection Classification for 2019. The Insurance Services Office rates a department’s PPC on a 1-to-10 scale, with 1 being the best.
This year, the Middlefield Volunteer Fire Company received a rating of 4, which is an improvement.
According to the Insurance Services Office report, across the nation, most fire departments included in this study recieved either a 4, 5, 6 or 9.
The report is a complete evaluation of a department’s “structure fire suppression capabilities.”
“We went down from one entire rating class, which is significant for anybody, but for a rural department that really is an accomplishment,” said Tyc.
In order to determine a department’s Public Protection Classification score, the Insurance Services Office looks at how the department manages emergency communications, the department’s water supply and flow rate and the fire department as a whole. These categories are then broken down into specific features and are graded on a point system.
“They rate us on everything from how we investigate fires, how do we reach out to the public, what do we do for public education,” said Tyc. “Our equipment, how many people show up for calls. That is all factored in.”
Moving forward, Tyc has established some areas where the department could improve. This includes implementing additional training for members, including certifying all members to the criteria for Firefighter 2.
According to Tyc, the Firefighter 2 classification goes beyond typical firefighter training by providing firefighters with “leadership training, officer training and advanced skills.”
“Being an entirely volunteer department puts us at a disadvantage,” said Tyc. “This is not something that’s for everybody. It’s not a once-a-month club. We ask a lot of people.”
Speaking of the improved Insurance Services Office rating, Middlefield First Selectman Edward Bailey said, “It indicates a strong interest by our Middlefield Volunteer Fire Company in improving their operations.”
“The improvement in the ISO rating will perhaps result in a reduction in property insurance premiums for businesses in town,” Bailey said. “The better the rating the more favorable the premium.”
The water supply category in the ISO study is worth 35 percent of the entire Public Protection Classification score. Being a rural department, efficient access to water can be an issue.
However, Bailey believes that the town has the resources necessary to avoid any water supply issues.
“We do have money set aside for installing water sources for emergency purposes. In some instances that can be, for example, installing a pipe in a pond,” said Bailey said, who pointed out there is such a pipe at Lake Beseck, as well as several underground tanks available for the fire department to access.