ISO rating

Imboden VFD Chief Jim Jones talks about the department’s brush truck, which is a former military vehicle that was obtained with assistance from the U.S. Forestry Service. Jones said Billy and Bobby Power were instrumental in getting the truck ready for service, including painting, plumbing and installing tanks.

IMBODEN — The Imboden Fire Department will achieve the second lowest rating possible from the Insurance Services Office (ISO).

“An ISO rating is your ability to do things with your fire department,” said Imboden Fire Chief Jim Jones. “Based on those ratings, you get a score and that affects the insurance on your homes, businesses and those types of things.”

The Imboden Fire Department lowered its ISO rating from three to two. The new rating will take effect Dec. 1.

ISO ranks fire departments from one to 10, with one being the best and 10 not meeting basic requirements. A score of five or higher is good, three is great, and one or two places the department among the best in the nation.

This means property owners in Imboden could see lower rates in the coming year. Insurance companies use ISO ratings to determine homeowner insurance rates.

Imboden Mayor Chris Jones said, “It saves people money because of our ability to put out structure fires. It also saves on property losses.”

ISO judges fire departments all across the nation on four categories: fire equipment and staffing/training (50 percent), water supply (40 percent), and efficiency of emergency communication (10%). The mayor said the fire department improved in all four categories since the last time the city received an ISO rating five years ago.

“If there should be an incident,” Jones said, “I think they’d feel comfortable that we’re going to be there as quick as we can with good equipment that’s going to work, we’re going to have a water supply, and the firemen are going to do their job and save their property.”

The Imboden Fire Department has 25 volunteer firefighters. None are full-time, so many are retirees or work other jobs. Jones said they all care about the community and work hard to protect it. The fire department hosts training meetings once a month along with occasional special training.

“It makes me feel good as the mayor that we have one of the best fire departments in the state, especially for our size,” the mayor said.

It’s uncommon for a small town to reach such a low ISO rating. Maumelle has a population of more than 18,000 and the Maumelle Fire Department was given an ISO rating of 2 in 2017, while Imboden’s population is under 700.

The Imboden Fire Department has gone through a few changes since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Along with wearing masks and socially distancing at meetings, Jones said they sometimes get paged to medical calls for which they don’t have the proper equipment to protect themselves. They worry about exposing their families as well.

Jones and the mayor are very proud of the volunteers for achieving such an accomplishment even through the struggles the year has brought.

“I’ve been here for about 56 years,” Jones said. “I saw it basically from the beginning to now, and obviously, I’m very proud.”

Jones joined the Imboden Fire Department at 16 years old. After watching the firefighters, he became interested in participating. He’s been involved with the fire department ever since with an exception to the time he spent in the military.

“Back then we didn’t have any equipment to wear,” Jones said. “We didn’t have any training. It was just a bunch of citizens that wanted to help the community.”