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Village of Massena’s lower PPC score could benefit property owners

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MASSENA — The village of Massena has seen an improvement in its Public Protection Classification and that could benefit homeowners when they purchase their property insurance.

“The last time they did this was more than 10 years ago,” said Fire Department Foreman Ken McGowan. “I think it’s great for the village. I know the volunteers and career firefighters put a lot of time and effort into this report.”

The report, which is conducted by the Insurance Services Office, looks at several factors to determine a score that ranges anywhere from zero to 105.5.

While neither Mayor James F. Hidy or Mr. McGowan have seen the final copy of the village’s evaluation, Mr. McGowan said he has learned the village has improved from a ranking of 5 to 4.

“ISO’s Public Protection Classification Service gauges the fire protection capability of the local fire department to respond to structure fires in which your company has a financial stake,” the ISO website states. “ISO collects information on a community’s public fire protection and analyzes the data using our Fire Suppression Rating Schedule.”

Ten points of the score are attributed to emergency communications, with 50 points coming from the fire department, 40 points coming from the village’s water system and 5.5 points attributed to community risk reduction.

Mr. McGowan said he would imagine the village received close to the full 10 points for emergency communication.

“With career firefighters receiving and dispatching emergency calls from the Massena fire station, that reduces any delays,” he said.

The fire department’s portion is actually broken into several other subcategories in which Mr. McGowan said he anticipates the village scored well.

“The fire department category is a very large section,” he said. “Our engines and ladder trucks are state-of-the-art trucks. We carry everything required to get the maximum points in those categories. The deployment category basically measures the amount of equipment that is available within a certain distance. With the Massena Fire Station centrally located in the village, we are quickly able to deliver the correct fire equipment.”

Mr. McGowan said the village earns a high personnel score by having career firefighters ready to respond to scenes almost immediately, while having that score boosted by having volunteer firefighters spread throughout the community. The amount of training received by both career and volunteer firefighters also helped to give the village a high score, he said.

The village’s score also benefits from having municipal water with hydrants spread throughout the village.

Mr. McGowan said the village is receiving points for the first time in the community risk reduction category in areas including fire prevention code adoption and enforcement, public fire safety education and fire investigation.

“The community risk reduction category is new to the fire department. I would think it is a huge help with us reducing our ISO rating. We are now able to receive these points,” he said.

Mr. McGowan and Mr. Hidy said the score was good news, not only to the community, but also to village home and business owners, who may begin to receive lower property insurance rates.

“A4 is considered highly protected,” said Harrison A. Rogers Agency President Russell B. Straight.

Mr. Straight, who operates insurance offices in Norfolk and Waddington, said a rating of 4 is something to be proud of.

“It’s a great piece of work. It means you’ve used your money wisely,” he said, referring to the community’s investment in its fire department and infrastructure.

While Mr. Straight said in terms of calculating insurance rates, homeowners aren’t likely to see their rates decrease, he said they may see their rates not increase as much in the future.

“It will have more of an immediate impact on commercial ratepayers,” he said. “However, in regards to homeowners, it aids them in insurability, underwritability and can contribute to rate stability.”

Mr. Hidy said the report is a good indication that the village taxpayers are “getting value for their tax dollars. “I’ve always said that if you compare us to other communities, having paid professional firefighters partnering with volunteers provides us with an enormous advantage when it comes to fire protection,” he said.

“It gives us the ability to respond to emergency situations within seconds compared to other communities who must rely solely on volunteers, who must first respond to the fire hall for apparatus before responding to the scene.”

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