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Improved rating for Limestone Fire Department should lower insurance costs

LIMESTONE, Maine — Limestone Fire Chief Jon Poitras announced during an Oct. 3 Select Board meeting that the town received a class six protection rating from the ISO, or Insurance Service Office, following an audit in April. This improved rating, according to town officials, will benefit commercial and residential landowners within five miles of the Limestone Fire Department on Main Street. 

Much like golf, a lower score is ideal with ISO ratings.

Poitras said the ISO has reclassified their ratings and simplified their system, which previously gave them a 5/9/10 rating, which means that anything within 1,000 feet of the last fire hydrant was a five, within five miles of the town was a nine, and beyond was a 10. In the new rating system, the first number has been removed and the town received a 6/10 as opposed to a 9/10.

Poitras said each department is rated on its emergency communications, the amount of fire engines and equipment owned, the number of staff members, and the water supply.

While the department was docked for communications and staff, it did improve its score for water supply and had just the right amount of engines and equipment to be awarded extra points. He said the communication system is essentially out of the department’s control unless it can obtain an enhanced 911 system and that it is nearly impossible to ensure all members of a volunteer fire department will be present at any given time during a fire.

As for the water, he said ISO requires “3,500 gallons a minute for two hours” for an optimal score, which he said is a “tremendous amount of water if you do the math.”

Despite this, the town recently installed a new water tower, which also gave the department some extra points.

Poitras thanked the selectmen for supporting the fire department and keeping firefighters up to date with all of their required equipment.

Interim Town Manager Tom Stevens said the rating will be effective on Jan. 1 of next year, adding that insurance companies look at this information when they determine their rates, and that the department’s improved score indicates a “positive trend.”

Selectman Chris Durepo congratulated Poitras and the department members for their hard work.

“It’s not just me,” said Poitras. “We have a dedicated workforce and it’s the town as well, for allowing us to purchase equipment which put us up to the 100 percent level for all required equipment.”

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