The Macomb Township Fire Department lowered the community’s ISO rating from a class 5 to class 3, meaning residents could see a savings of $30-$50 per year on homeowners insurance.

The Macomb Township Fire Department lowered the community’s ISO rating from a class 5 to class 3, meaning residents could see a savings of $30-$50 per year on homeowners insurance.

File photo by Deb Jacques


Macomb Twp., Shelby Twp., fire depts improve ISO ratings

By: Joshua Gordon | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published May 9, 2018

 Building Fire Station No. 5 in Shelby Township helped lower the community’s ISO rating from a class 5 to a class 3.

Building Fire Station No. 5 in Shelby Township helped lower the community’s ISO rating from a class 5 to a class 3.

File photo by Joshua Gordon

MACOMB TOWNSHIP/SHELBY TOWNSHIP — Residents in Macomb Township and Shelby Township could see their homeowners insurance go down a few dollars each year thanks to work done by the local fire departments.

Both the Macomb Township and Shelby Township fire departments improved their community’s public protection classification from the Insurance Services Office Community Hazard Mitigation from a class 5 to a class 3. The scale is 1-10, with class 1 being the best and class 10 being the worst.

Shelby Township Fire Chief Jim Swinkowski said Shelby Township’s rating also includes a class 3x rating for the northeast quadrant of the community. Because that area isn’t completely developed and lacks the proper water mains and fire hydrants, the rating gets an “x” that can be removed when the area is further developed.

Shelby Township was last evaluated in in 1994 and was given a class 5 for a majority of the community and a class 9 for the northeast quadrant, which Swinskowski said the ISO removed in favor of the new “x” rating.

In determining the class, the ISO looks at the emergency communications, the fire department structure and water supply in a community.

Swinkowski said following the previous rating in 1994, the former Chief Gene Shepherd had a consultant come through the community and look at everything the department could do to improve its safety for residents. Over the past five years, Swinkowski said he has started making some of those recommended changes.

That includes improvements to the 911 systems, improvements to the water system and better equipment and staffing for the department. The biggest change, however, was building Fire Station No. 5 last summer to provide quicker response times in the community.

“I work with the board to make sure the changes we are making make sense from a financial standpoint and the things we did I felt fit that,” Swinkowski said. “We don’t want to waste money to get a couple dollar break on insurance, but what we did was necessary to provide the best public safety we can.”

Being labeled a class 3 community means Macomb Township and Shelby Township are in the 90th percentile of departments studied by the ISO.

With the two-class improvement, homeowners in the two communities could see homeowners insurance savings of between $20 and $50 per year. Businesses could see even more savings.

Swinkowski said most insurance companies use the ISO rating to help determine insurance rates, so residents should call their insurance company. While it isn’t a huge amount, any savings is a positive as it means the community is safer.

“You spend taxpayer money to save them some taxpayer dollars on their insurance,” he said. “We are trying to do what is necessary and in the best interest of saving money.”

Macomb Township Fire Chief Robert Phillips said Macomb Township was last inspected in 1999 and given a class 5 rating. Phillips said one of the biggest factors for the new rating was an increase in both full-time and on-call firefighters.

In February, the Macomb Township Board of Trustees approved hiring nine full-time firefighters to make sure all four fire stations are manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“Since 1999, we have two new stations and have increased the number of apparatus we have,” Phillips said. “We have also improved the water system with additional hydrants and water lines. And increasing the number of personnel in the department was a big step.”

Phillips said right now there are only nine communities in Michigan that have a class 2 rating and none have a class 1 rating. 

To work toward lowering the rating, Phillips said he has made some changes to the training the department does and thinks bringing in additional equipment and gear will help provide a better level of protection for the residents.

In Shelby Township, Swinkowski said making some administrative changes could help lower the rating while not costing taxpayer dollars.