Sumter County is very please to announce that the Insurance Services Office (ISO) has informed the county by letter that its Public Protection Classification review has been completed and a rating of 5/9 was achieved. This is a huge accomplishment in that the majority of the unincorporated county was previously classed as a 9 or 10 due to most portions of the unincorporated county were not within 5 miles of a fire station and not within 1,000 feet of a water source (fire hydrant or approved water source). Only the areas within 5 miles of the City of Americus fire station and within 1000 feet of a fire hydrant received a better rating.
Sumter County Board of Commissioners voted in September 2009 to create a fire department in the unincorporated areas of the county. In December 2009, Sumter County Headquarters Station on Rucker Street began responding to calls with 2 engine companies of paid staff and inmate firefighters. Shortly thereafter a 2nd manned station came on line on South Hwy 19 at the regional park with 1 Engine Company in residence at the station.
In June 2010 the cities of Andersonville, Plains and Desoto elected to join in our efforts and to participate in the funding of the newly formed department.
July 2010 the Sumter County Board of Commissioners approved a fire fee to be placed on the property tax bill creating a separate fund to pay the operating cost of the department.
In the fall of 2010 new substations were added placing 99% of all county residences within 5 miles of a fire station. This brought the total number of stations to 4 manned stations and 18 substations for a total of 22. The two additional manned stations were at Plains and Lake Blackshear.
ISO was contacted in December 2010 to proceed with its review of the Sumter County Fire Department. The physical field review of the department occurred in late March of 2011 and then the field review was again reviewed by the ISO office in New Jersey. This process has been completed and partial results have been released with a letter dated July 14, 2011 and final details and analysis were released on August 31, 2011.
There is a 1 year window for making changes to fire services to improve the Fire Protections Classification. Every effort is currently being made to improve the rating to a minimum of a 4/9, but with every intention of hopefully achieving a classification of a straight class 4 by the use of long hose lays and additional water sources being identified.
Sumter County is very proud of the accomplishments of the Sumter County Fire Department. We wish to thank Skip Starling and his staff with National Fire Services Office for their guidance in this process and to all member of the Sumter County Fire Department. The Sumter County Correctional Institute has provided exceptional cooperation in the Inmate Fire Fighter Program. This could not have been accomplished without their leadership and dedication. This is a historic accomplishment for the Citizens of Sumter County. This significant benchmark in creating a professional Fire Department and receiving a Fire Protection Rating of 5/9 within 2 years of operation places Sumter County in the top 20% of fire departments in the State of Georgia There are currently 1,106 fire departments in the State of Georgia. Currently, there are only 206 fire departments in the State that have a better ISO score than Sumter Fire Department, 221 who have the same score and 615 who have a score lower than Sumter County. If Sumter County lowered the ISO score to a Class-4/9, there would then be only be 78 fire departments in the State which would hold a better ISO score.
Although the official effective date for the new rates is December 1, 2011, this delay is due to the need to update the maps and data bases of ISO.
However, Insurance companies and property owners may review and utilize local data from the GIS Department to confirm distances to fire station and hydrants/water sources. The Board of Commissioners would like to urge Citizens of Sumter County to check with local insurance agents to verify the coverage of their area and rates.
The Board of Commissioners would like to thank the citizens of Sumter County for the support that it has received from the community in its efforts to provide fire and emergency responder services. Now that the ground work has been laid for a professional delivery of fire and first responder services, the Board pledges its support to continued improvement of facilities, equipment and staffing to raise the ISO to the highest feasible level with available resources.