HCWA Contributes to Henry County's Class 2 Fire Rating
With the recent news that the Henry County Fire Department received a Public Protection Classification (PPC) of 02/2X from the Insurance Services Office (ISO), officials at the Henry County Water Authority (HCWA) expressed great pride in the water utility’s role in helping the County achieve this unprecedented ranking.
The ISO fire rating, or PPC, is a measure that rates communities on how prepared they are to respond to and suppress fires. The numerical ratings provided by ISO, after conducting extensive surveys of a local jurisdiction’s fire protection quality, range from 1 to 10, with 1 being the highest possible rating. Henry County’s Fire Department received an upgrade from its previous rating of 4 to the current rating of 2, which is exceptional, according to Authority officials. The ISO’s 2020 published distribution of the PPC grades of nearly 40,000 jurisdictions from across the country reveals that Henry County’s Class 2 ISO Rating places it among the top 5.3% of fire departments in the United States. In fact, less than 1% of fire departments in the country have a better rating than Henry County’s.
The Fire Suppression Rating Schedule (FSRS) used by ISO to calculate the official PPC for Henry County consisted of a review of its Emergency Communications, which accounts for 10% of the grade, a review of the Fire Department, which accounts for 50% of the grade, and a review of the Water Supply, which accounts for 40% of the total grade. The HCWA achieved a score of 36.86 out of the 40 possible points, or a grade of 92.15.
The Authority’s Water Supply grade was broken into three components – (1) Supply System, with the HCWA receiving 27.13 out of 30 possible points, (2) Fire Hydrants Size, Type & Installation, resulting in 3 out of 3 total points, and (3) Inspection & Flow Testing of Hydrants, resulting in 6.73 out of 7 total points.
Henry County’s total grade from all three elements of the ISO fire suppression evaluation was 85.12, resulting in the Class 2 Rating. One of the greatest benefits of Henry County’s ISO Class 2 Rating is the reduction in the cost of homeowner’s insurance for local residents.
“Going from Class 4 to Class 2 is outstanding, and we are one of the few systems in Georgia to achieve this high of a rating,” says Jimmy Carter, HCWA Chairman of the Board. “But this also positively affects the pocketbook of homeowners, who will enjoy the savings on insurance premiums. And this is another example of how we all benefit from the forward thinking of the leadership of previous Water Authority Boards and Lindy Farmer and his staff.”
Not to be overlooked in the HCWA’s grade of 92.15 on its portion of the ISO rating is the importance of the 2-mil tax from Henry County property owners, which is dedicated solely to paying off outstanding prior bonds or any additional first lien bonds necessary to fund projects outlined in the Authority’s long-term Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). The current CIP includes investments of approximately $930 million in water/sewer infrastructure over the next 30 years.
Since being implemented through an Amendment to the Authority Act by the Georgia General Assembly in 1968, the 2-mil tax has helped to fund the construction of two water treatment plants, five reservoirs with a combined 18 billion gallons of water storage, and over 1,300 miles of water distribution mains, all of which contributed to the “Needed Fire Flows” and “Water Supply” that were critical to this Class 2 ISO Rating for Henry County. In addition, the HCWA has 31.4 million gallons of finished drinking water storage for customer use now, and to facilitate quality economic growth and industrial development for Henry County’s future.
“Through the years, without the 2-mil tax and the funding and bond financing that it has provided, the Water Authority would not have been able to complete the projects necessary to achieve this Class 2 Rating, and we would not be enjoying the benefits of an award-winning system,” adds Warren Holder, HCWA Vice Chairman. “The savings homeowners receive from lower insurance premiums more than offsets what they are paying for the 2-mil tax.”
Without the 2-mil Tax, the HCWA would have to increase rates by more than 25 percent to generate the revenue necessary to provide the level of services the Authority offers currently, as well as the capital projects needed to meet customer demands for water/sewer in the future.
“I’m extremely proud of Henry County’s improved ISO rating, because it reflects the outstanding work of the County and the professionals in our Fire Department,” says Lindy Farmer, HCWA General Manager. “An effective working relationship between the Fire Department and Water Authority is paramount to achieving a lower ISO rating. Thanks to our current and past leadership on the Board, our dedicated employees, and the wise use of a 2-mil tax from our customers, we have been able to invest in the water infrastructure necessary to make this unprecedented ISO rating possible.”
Chris Wood, Ph.D.
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