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(From left) 911 Administrator Brandon James, Russellville Water and Sewer Board manager Eric Hill and Russellville Fire Chief Joe Mansell meet to discuss Russellville Fire Department’s most recent ISO rating.

RFD notches higher rating for safety

Russellville Fire Department recently received a new rating from the Insurance Service Organization based on its capacity for firefighting. The highest ISO score achievable is a 1, and the worst score is a 10.

“Once you hit 80 points, you’re a Class 2,” explained Russellville Fire Chief Joe Mansell. “Last time, we had about 81 points, pushing us just barely into that rating. This time, we scored 83.94, so we’re still a two but a stronger two.

“The fire and water departments and 911 working together so well helps us get and maintain such a high ISO rating,” Mansell added. “We want to make sure we’re providing the best service we possibly can. That’s one reason we run medical calls. We have medics at the station, and station locations help with this a lot, but we can often get to a scene before an ambulance and get treatment started.”

Among the factors considered in the rating include response times, the number of personnel, amount of training hours per month and how many fire hydrants and stations there are.

Some of the training includes practicing on a fire tower and rappelling down it. Other included training involves hose tests, pump tests and pre-fire planning. At least 20 hours of training per month is required.

Additionally, fire trucks have to be tested, including all components, such as the hoses and ladders

Eric Hill, manager of the Russellville Water and Sewer Board, said more than 400 fire hydrants serve Russellville, and flow tests have to be conducted on them to make sure they are working correctly.

“That’s data that insurance companies have access to,” said Hill.

A good ISO rating saves homeowners and business owners money on their insurance.

Hill said the fire hydrant tops are color-coded to indicate how many gallons per minute the flow is – information that helps firefighters make the best choices for hook-up when fighting a fire.

“In addition to the hours we spend training, we average anywhere between six to nine calls per day,” said Mansell.

Mansell said when he first became a firefighter, the job was only about fighting fire. “Now we’re a medium rescue team for the state of Alabama and a dive team for Franklin County, and we’re part of a Franklin County HAZMAT team.”

Mansell said regardless of whether the Russellville Fire Department ever makes it to a Class One rating, the goal is – as it has always been – to provide the best service possible. In the meantime, area residents and businesses can be well-assured by the high rating the fire department already has.