Insurance industry notes Loveland fire department’s dedication to improvement

LFRA has achieved a better ISO rating plus accreditation status within the past year

By Sam Lounsberry

Reporter-Herald Staff Writer

Loveland Fire Rescue Authority leaders received a plaque showing accreditation in July from the Commission on Fire Accreditation International during a

Loveland Fire Rescue Authority leaders received a plaque showing accreditation in July from the Commission on Fire Accreditation International during a meeting in North Carolina. Pictured, from left, are retired Chief Randy Mirowski, Lt. Dan Englehardt, Chief Mark Miller, former Loveland Lt. Ty Drage and Jeff Swanty, chairman of the LFRA board, all who had a hand in reaching accreditation during the more than two-year process. (Loveland Fire Rescue Authority / Special to the Reporter-Herald)

Insurance industry groups have taken notice of the Loveland fire department’s dedication to continual improvement, which can lead to lower homeowners insurance rates for properties in the area.

Within the last year, Loveland Fire Rescue Authority not only attained accreditation from an international commission, becoming just one of 239 fire departments worldwide to be recognized by the board, but also improved its Insurance Services Office rating from a 3 to a 2. A rating of 1 is best, and also rarely awarded by the Insurance Services Office, a private organization that statistically analyzes risk and evaluates the effectiveness of fire departments.

When a department achieves an improved ISO rating, premiums on homeowners insurance plans in its area sometimes drop, according to Carole Walker, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association, a regional insurance industry database.

And by achieving accreditation from the Commission on Fire Accreditation International this summer, the board governing LFRA and its chief Mark Miller took a step to help ensure the agency’s recent improvement is not just an occasional occurrence.

In July, when LFRA became officially accredited by the commission’s board at a ceremony in Charlotte, N.C., the fire department accepted a challenge to have itself assessed by the board annually. Plus every five years, LFRA will have to essentially redo the entire process of becoming accredited, which took more than two years for the initial stamp of accreditation, Miller said.

Meeting the requirements to retain accreditation includes LFRA progressing upon a list of recommendations made to the department by the commission, and current LFRA Battalion Chief Michael Cerovksi’s role will change later this month to specifically manage the department’s accreditation status.

“It’s not one-stop shopping. We have to report to them frequently,” said Jeff Swanty, chairman of the board that governs LFRA.

Among the recommendations was one to further research the various methods of classifying risks in spots within the department’s coverage area. The LFRA was commended during the July meeting between the Commission on Fire Accreditation International board and LFRA leaders such as Miller and Swanty in Charlotte, N.C., on areas including firefighters’ cancer prevention practices.

“It was important hearing not just what we wanted to hear, but what we needed to hear,” Swanty said. “Nobody gets 100 percent.”

Although achieving accreditation isn’t necessarily linked to LFRA lowering its ISO rating, and therefore doesn’t have as direct of an effect on homeowners insurance premiums alone, it is another positive sign to the insurance industry.

“You can’t say specifically how big of an impact (lowering ISO rating from 3 to 2) would have on premiums, but it can have a big impact if you downgrade,” Walker said. “To have it moving in the right direction, that is a big benefit. Oftentimes I get these calls because resources are stretched (in other cities), or the fire department has moved further away and that ISO number is going down. Having a department work this hard to improve should be applauded, especially by its citizens.”

One of Miller’s goals with accreditation status was to send a message to the Loveland community.

“It should show the community that we’re serious about the service we perform. We’re also open to criticism,” Miller said. “I feel a big responsibility to make sure we don’t step back.”

Planning how to perpetuate improvement into the future is partly what keeps LFRA well-respected in the fire service, Swanty said.

“This is where other departments come for advice. Big departments come to Loveland,” he said.

Sam Lounsberry: 970-635-3630, slounsberry@prairiemountainmedia.com and twitter.com/samlounz.

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