By Miriam Raftery
Photo: Heartland Fire & Rescue Chief Rick Sitta delivers good news at El Cajon Council meeting
June 9, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) – If you live in the cities of El Cajon, La Mesa or Lemon Grove, your fire insurance rates will soon be going down. That’s because Heartland Fire & Rescue, which provides firefighting services for all three cities, has received a class 1 rating from the Insurance Services Office (ISO).
The ISO rates 47,000 fire departments across the United States and of those, only 98 have attained a class 1 rating, including only 8 fire districts in the entire state of California. “Class 1 communities are very rare, and some of these scores are the highest we’ve ever seen,” says Stephanie Ruscansky from the ISO, who notes that only a small fraction of 1% of all agencies rated attain a Class 1 rating.
Heartland Fire & Rescue Chief Rick Sitta made the announcement at today’s El Cajon City Council meeting. “This is an exciting day for us,” he said.
The ISO surveys fire departments on overall fire suppression service, looking at a variety of factors including water availability, equipment, deployment, training, personnel and risk reduction. Districts are ranked 1 through 10, with a class 1 rating presented only to those districts that score 90 or higher out of a possible 100 points.
The rating takes effect September 1st. According to Ruscansky, homeowners in the Heartland Fire District should see their fire insurance rates drop by 5% on their homeowners’ policies. For commercial business property owners, rates should drop 5 to 15%, depending on several other factors.
The rating validates the recent decision by the cities of La Mesa, El Cajon and Lemon Grove to consolidate their firefighting services under the Heartland Fire & Rescue District.
El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells praised Heartland Fire for its success . The Mayor told Chief Sitta, “Please tell all the men and women you work with how proud we all are of you.”