Hilton Head Island residents happy with fire improvements

Hilton Head Island Fire Department improves ISO rating

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC (WTOC) - If you live on Hilton Head Island, your fire department is stepping up its game - and that could save you some extra cash.

The fire department announced they improved their ISO rating, which stands for ‘Insurance Service Office’ rating. Improving their ISO rating from a 3 to a 2 is a big accomplishment for the Hilton Head Island Fire Department.

The ISO maybe 10 to 20 years ago was the GOLD standard for how insurance companies decide your premium for your homeowners insurance, but today, not all insurance companies do that anymore. Even though it might not save everyone money, everyone we spoke to on the island Wednesday is seeing this improvement as a positive.

Responding to nearly 150 fire calls a year and putting out fires is what Hilton head Island firefighters are doing day in and day out, and they are trying to get better at it, too. In 2012, the fire department was given an ISO rating of 3. Their most recent evaluation at the end of last year improved to a 2.

“We did that without implementing any new costs. We just looked at what we could do internally through improved processes, improved record keeping and improved training," said Chief Brad Tadlock, Hilton Head Island Fire and Rescue.

Chief Tadlock says it was important to him and his department to improve the services that their taxpayers pay for.

“I think we are proud that we improved. That was the key that the work we put into it paid off. We did improve our rating which is something you want to tell the community. You hope it brings cost savings and at this point, I’m not ready to say that it will," he said.

Insurance companies are moving away from using ISO ratings as the sole standard for homeowner insurance premiums. Chief Tadlock says they won’t know if homeowners’ premiums will go down for residents for another six months. Even if it doesn’t lower their insurance, residents tell us it makes them even more confident in their first responders.

“I mean, anytime someone is going outside of what they have to do to do more is to always be applauded," said Melanie Van Kampen, a Hilton Head Island resident for three years.

“As someone who lives in this community, it makes me feel safer. It makes me feel like my needs are being more attended to, and I think its just fantastic," said 17-year resident, Heather Rath.

The chief says there is no way to know exactly how this ISO change will impact costs.

In about six months, the department will be able to self-evaluate and see if insurance companies in the areas changed their premiums, so if you’re a Hilton Head Island resident, keep your eyes out for your next homeowners insurance premium rate.

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