Beulah Volunteer Fire Department Improves ISO Rating

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MARSHALL COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) -- Some Boaz-area residents will soon see a decrease on their homeowner's insurance.

The Insurance Services Office improved their rating of the Beulah Volunteer Fire Department for the first time in its 32 year history.

ISO ratings range from 1 to 10, with 10 being the worst, based on such fire prevention elements as station location, hydrant location, and equipment.

Beulah VFD always had a 9, but that went down to a 6.

"[Residents] within 1,000 feet of a hydrant, their rates should go down and save an estimate of 30 to 40%," Chief Chris Brock said.

The volunteer firefighters are hopefully they can soon get to a 5, with a goal of 4.

By comparison, Huntsville Fire Department has an ISO rating of 3.

"We know that the 9 that we've had has been a negative thing for our community and insurance and ratings and premiums and all," Assistant Chief Andrew Young said.

"This is something that excites us because it shows that we're improving. We hope that the community can see that we're trying and we're putting forth our efforts to better everything for everybody around us."

To make those improvements, the fire department has to spend more money on equipment.  Marshall County splits tobacco tax money among the volunteer departments, and Beulah gets $600 to $800 a month.

"Our tobacco tax check pretty well covers our engine payments and that's it," Brock said.

"We still have equipment, water bill, electric bill, gas bill, truck insurance that we still have to pay and the fundraisers from the community are what keeps us going."

A full set of gear for a single firefighter can cost $10,000, and these volunteers pay for a lot out of their own pocket.  They don't get paid, and can get called at any time.

"We're in a sacrificial business here, sacrificing things for others," Young said.

"That's a choice, but if we don't do it, who will?"

Young said Beulah VFD and other volunteer departments are always looking for more members, and you don't have to actually fight fires.  He said people driving trucks or simply bringing bottled water to a scene can be a huge help.