By jeanne starmack
The city’s fire chief says he hopes to ask for a review in December to improve a rating that affects insurance rates for homeowners and businesses.
Fire Chief Nick Herlec said Tuesday he’ll have enough records of monthly training, a years’ worth, by then to satisfy the Insurance Services Office, which rates municipalities’ fire protection services on a scale of 1 to 10 for insurance companies. Campbell’s had been a 6, but was lowered to a 10 last year.
The lack of training records and a lack of manpower that couldn’t ensure at least four firefighters on a call was the reason Campbell’s ISO rating fell to a 10. Campbell administrators and council members fielded complaints from residents who found themselves having to pay higher insurance rates, and wondered how the city’s rating could be so low when it has fire hydrants and a centrally located fire station.
Herlec said that without enough firefighters to attend training sessions, the sessions didn’t make sense. Departments are supposed to have in-house training for 18 hours a year, Herlec said.
But last year the city agreed to begin having volunteer firefighters, including them in a five-year recovery plan the state mandates while the city is in fiscal emergency. There are now 10 volunteers plus the city’s five paid firefighters, and Herlec said the department has been having training sessions.
“We’ve been doing what other stations do,” he said. “We’re doing our drills and training. After December, we’ll try to get [the ISO reviewer] back in.”
Herlec had told city council at a caucus meeting last month that the ISO reviewer wanted the fire department to stop doing its own dispatching.
He said he is unsure if that is still the case, but would be prepared to deal with that issue as well if it comes up again.