During Creston City Council’s public forum Tuesday, Fire Chief Todd Jackson shared the news the Creston Fire Department’s Public Protection Classification (PPC) was lowered to Class 3. The PPC is graded on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best and 10 being the worst.
The PPC program works to provide up-to-date information about local fire protection services through the Insurance Services Office (ISO). About every two years, fire departments are audited based on their ability to fight fires in the community. According to the ISO, “Class 1 generally presents superior property fire protection, and Class 10 indicates that the area’s fire-supression program doesn’t meet our minimum criteria.”
In Iowa, about 1,500 fire departments have been audited by this program. A majority of departments fall in the Class 5 through 7.
“When I started [in 1999], we were a Class 6 fire department,” Jackson said. “We went through three audits, and every time they’ve lowered our protection classification and now we’re in Class 3, which is really the top 10% in Iowa as far as fire departments go.”
According to ISO, 42 Iowa fire departments are Class 3, 22 are Class 2 and only two departments are Class 1. Jackson said the goal is to continue the trend and become a Class 2 fire department by the next audit.
“Kudos to the guys that have been training and testing our equipment, and [city council] for providing us with the equipment,” Jackson said. “We haven’t seen the final results yet on what we need to improve on, but we’re looking forward to doing other things to make it even better to try and get Class 2 next time.”
Along with keeping the community safer from fires, a lower PPC class often signifies lower insurance rates for community members.
“The lower the classification number is, they feel we are better qualified or better prepared to fight fires throughout our community,” Jackson said. “That means lower insurance rates oftentimes, especially for commercial businesses, but also will help your residential rates too. I encourage everyone to check with your insurance company when it comes time to renew that they are aware of our new public protection classification.”
In other city council news...
The council met with Tionna Pooler, the president of Independent Public Advisers, regarding the city’s financial plan for the DNR-mandated wastewater treatment plan. The city has spent the last several years making small annual increases to community members’ water bills in the anticipation for the project.
“I’ve been suggesting 5% annual increases over the last few years and I would think that can stay the same again,” Pooler said. “We’re kind of on schedule for everything that needs to be done. Your coverage looks good, your liquidity is good, those are things we’re looking at.”
Pooler explained that while rate increases are “never fun,” Creston has been doing a better job than other cities she has worked with.
“Creston has done a good job of maintaining regular rate increases. You’re affording this relatively painlessly. That is not the case everywhere,” Pooler said. “If I’m looking at a 5% rate increase with your average monthly bill going up to about $28, there are other cities where it’s triple that, so good to you that you have been planning for this and adjusting for this for so long. You’re reaping the benefit of that now.”
City council also had an appointment with Reagan Brown of Homegrown Creative regarding city website and social media rebranding. Brown explained the city would benefit from modernizing the website and making it more user friendly. She also encouraged the city to go forward with a cohesive brand, using the city of Newton as an example.
While originally on the agenda, the consideration of a resolution to approve the rental housing administrative policy was taken off due to the council not yet forming a committee on said policy according to Iowa Public Information Board rules.