Cambridge Fire improves department rating

Property owners served by the Cambridge Fire Department may see a lower rate on the fire portion of their homeowner’s insurance due to an improved rating.

Cambridge Fire Chief Sean Okerlund explained effective Nov. 1, the Cambridge Fire Department will have an improved ISO rating.

ISO, a leading risk management company, reviews the firefighting capabilities of individual communities. The schedule measures the major elements of a community’s fire-suppression system and develops a numerical grading called a Public Protection Classification.

Fifty percent of the overall grading is based on the number of engine companies and the amount of water a community needs to fight a fire. ISO reviews the distribution of fire companies throughout the area and checks that the fire department tests its pumps regularly and inventories each engine company’s nozzles, hoses, breathing apparatus and other equipment.

Forty percent of the grading is based on the community’s water supply, and 10 percent of the overall grading is based on how well the fire department receives fire alarms and dispatches its firefighting resources.

“Our new ISO rating will begin Nov. 1, and it has been 10 years since we did an ISO,” Okerlund said. “A lot has changed in 10 years, so we thought it would be beneficial to have someone judge us on our ability to provide fire services.”

Okerlund said increased services, the department’s purchase of a new ladder truck in the mid 2000s and an increased water supply due to a new water tower on the east side of Cambridge all contributed to the new rating.

It’s a lengthy process to obtain a new ISO rating, Okerlund noted. He explained an ISO team came to town on two different occasions, and the department has hundreds of hours invested into the process as well.

“We feel this new rating will result in a significant savings to residents on the fire portion of their homeowner’s insurance,” Okerlund said. “When talking with one agent in town, he said some homeowners might see a 10 percent decrease on their insurance. Approximately 80 percent of agents follow ISO ratings regarding savings on homeowner’s insurance. This same agent said the new rating might also save some businesses more than $1,000 on their insurance.”

Oklerlund said homeowners wondering how the new ISO rating may affect their insurance rate should call their insurance agency after Nov. 1 and ask if their insurance company follows ISO ratings.

“The time spent by the department to obtain this new and improved ISO rating has been well worth it,” Okerlund said. “The significant lower rating is very good, and it took a lot of time and effort to pull it off. We have been working toward this for years with our added fire services and improved records keeping.”

Okerlund, who has served as fire chief for three years, said a focus of the department has always been to serve its community to the best of its ability.

“We always appreciate the continued support we receive from the city, as well as those who utilize our services,” Okerlund said. “We also appreciate our partnerships with other fire departments because a lot of this rating has to do with our automatic mutual aid agreements we have with other departments.”

The Cambridge Fire Department responds when dispatched by 911. To contact the department with any questions or concerns or to set up a tour or a visit to talk about fire safety, call 763-689-3211.