Westover Fire Department receives high public protection rating

The Westover Fire Department recently received a 3/3X public protection classification from the Insurance Safety Office. (Contributed/@CityofWestover)

The Westover Fire Department recently received a 3/3X public protection classification from the Insurance Safety Office. (Contributed/@CityofWestover)

By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer

WESTOVER—The Westover Fire Department recently got some news that could save town residents “hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Westover Mayor Mark McLaughlin said.

The fire department was awarded a 3/3X public protection classification from the Insurance Safety Office. The ISO rates fire departments on a scale of one through 10, with one indicating the best possible protection and 10 indicating no protection.

The 3/3X rating is the first the Westover Fire Department has received since it was founded in 2007, and an improvement on the 7/9 rating the department had inherited from the Westover Volunteer Fire Department.

“It’s a big deal for the city,” McLaughlin said. “We’re proud to offer this service to our residents.”

The rating directly impacts the homeowner’s premiums paid by Westover residents, and McLaughlin suggested residents contact their insurance companies about rate adjustments.

“It’s a major deal,” McLaughlin said. “It could literally save hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

The rating process is a lengthy one for both fire departments and the ISO. When rating a fire department, the ISO takes into account a department’s staffing, response time, equipment, hydrants, water sources, mutual aid and more.

The Westover Fire Department spent months preparing documentation for a five-day department visit from the ISO.

“It takes a couple months to get everything together,” Westover Fire Chief Kelly Morris said. “We have to have all of our records present (at the ISO visit).”

The Westover Fire Department is open seven days a week and staffed by six professional firefighters, including McLaughlin.

“If your house catches on fire, and we hope that it doesn’t, you’ll most likely see me out there working to put the fire out,” McLaughlin said.

The Westover Fire Department responds to between 300 and 400 calls each year. The Four Mile, Harpersville and, in the case of a two alarm fire, Chelsea fire departments offer support to the Westover Fire Department on calls.

“Shelby County is a really good area for this kind of stuff,” Morris said. “Everyone is really good at helping out.”