Albia Volunteer Fire Department

Albians and people living within a five-mile radius of the city will eventually enjoy a decrease in their property insurance rates due to the dogged work of the Albia Volunteer Fire Department.

Albia Fire Chief John Freshwater told the Albia City Council Monday night at their regular meeting that Albia’s Fire Department had achieved what many thought was impossible—an upgrade in ISO Rating from a 6 to a 4. The ISO rating system is funded by insurance companies around the nation to determine premiums. The lower the rating, the more advanced the fire department and the lower the premiums for home and property insurance in that department’s coverage area.

“We’ve been working on this for over 20 years,” said Chief Freshwater. “We were able to achieve the 4 rating two-thirds from fire department improvements and one-third from Albia Waterworks structural improvements.”

The ISO rating is based on an extensive point system. Departments are rated on truck pump capacity (Albia had added two new trucks in the past few years), aerial certification, personnel and certification (Albia’s department has virtually all of their fire fighters certified through formal training), the number of fire fighters who respond to calls, training, response time, the digital 911 radio system (upgraded when the new law center was built), fire prevention instruction to the community and then the flow rates and other improvements to the community’s water system.

Freshwater said Albia’s new rating would compare to the rating Indianola received and the community of over 12,000 has a professional fire department. By comparison, Ottumwa has a 3 rating with a full contingent of professional fire fighters and two stations.

Monroe County’s other rural fire departments are rated around 10, said Freshwater.

“It takes years of work to improve a rating and we’re really proud of this,” said Freshwater. “I think the people of Albia will be happy down the road when they see their insurance premiums drop.”

In other business, City Attorney Bob Breckenridge reported that the union contract for street and sanitation workers and the Albia Police Department had been settled favorably. “With the help of Summers Insurance, we were able to do some creative work with our health insurance to provide the same coverage with much lower premiums,” he said. “We took those savings and applied them to wages and were able to give workers a $1 increase per house this year and $1 next in a two-year contract without increasing city costs at all.”

The first reading of a new ordinance for no parking on the south side of Fourth Avenue East from South Second to South Sixth Streets was approved.

A resolution was passed to property transfer property at 321 North Main to the Chariton Valley Housing Trust was approved.

City Clerk Linda Heller told the council that a citizen had asked for a four-way stop at the corners of A Street and A Avenue (near the new Conley Spray Foam facility). Chief Jay Andrews said as far as he knew there had never been an accident at that intersection, but he would conduct a traffic study.

The council asked Heller to put a discussion about the emergency siren located at Washington Park on the next agenda. The siren is not working properly.

The council and Breckenridge also discussed briefly the propriety of council members bringing up issues not listed on the agenda late in the meeting. It was the opinion of the city attorney that council members wanting to discuss specific items should have them listed on the agenda so as not to break any Iowa Open Meeting laws.

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