MARMORA – The Marmora Volunteer Fire Company has received a Class 3 rating from the Insurance Services Office (ISO), which provides underwriting and risk management data to insurance companies, putting it in the top few percentile of fire departments across the country that have been reviewed by the company.
ISO has performed reviews of almost 49,010 professional and volunteer fire departments in the United States. The company evaluates fire department communications, fire flows, equipment, staffing and training and uses that information to create a Public Protection Classification number.
Fire departments are ranked from 1-10, with 1 being the best and 10 being no protection at all. The lower the rating, the lower fire insurance costs homeowners in a given area.
Homeowners in Fire District 3 may see some savings in their homeowners insurance with the fire company’s improved ISO rating. Marmora Fire Chief Jay Newman said residents should contact their insurance agent and ask whether the new ISO rating has been taken into consideration.
“Other factors like the age or construction of a home go into it, so it’s not a guarantee,” Newman said.
Newman said the Class 3 rating that the Marmora fire company received last year is an impressive feat, especially for an all-volunteer company.
“Out of 49,000 fire departments, including paid fire departments, Marmora ranked amongst the best,” he said. “That is an amazing fact for our little corner of the world.”
According to ISO, there are 2,410 Class 3 fire departments in the country. There are 750 fire departments ranked Class 2 and 60 ranked Class 1.
ISO approached the Marmora Volunteer Fire Company about a new evaluation in January of 2013. The evaluation process took a few months, Newman said.
Marmora received credit for maintaining two engine companies, a ladder company and a rescue company, Newman said. Its pump capacity is rated excellent, he said.
The average response time to a fire in Marmora is under three minutes, according to ISO. The fire company sees an average response of 21.5 firefighters per call, Newman said.
Firefighters from Seaville and Tuckahoe also respond to fires along with the Marmora Volunteer Fire Company as part of mutual aid plans. The fire company received credit for those plans, as well as its communications system and dispatch. Dispatch service is provided by the City of Ocean City.
“A lot of credit goes to our fire commissioners who have provided the necessary funding for equipment and training,” Newman said. “New Jersey American Water has been a great partner inspecting the hydrants and making sure there is enough water pressure.”
Newman said there are 34 water hydrants in Fire District 3. Fire District 3 covers all of Marmora, Beesleys Point and part of Palermo.
He said the Marmora fire company has around 40 active members, with about 25 “very active” members who can be relied upon to respond every day. Having a group of reliable volunteers is very important for a fire company, Newman said.
“We are very fortunate here, we have a group of people who are willing to volunteer and come out every time and put it on the line,” he said. “A lot of people ask me why we call so many people out for a small fire, but you never know.”
Newman said he tells new firefighters that if they serve long enough, they will see everything.
“Nobody ever expected to see a truck drive off the Parkway,” he said, referring to a Memorial Day weekend accident in which a truck fell off the Great Egg Harbor Bridge between Somers Point and Beesleys Point. The driver was saved by nearby construction workers and firefighters.
Newman said the fire company received no credit for fire and code enforcement in its ISO rating. The township does not have a full-time fire inspection officer, he said.
“There are some things we want to improve upon,” Newman said. “We want to improve every time we are evaluated.”
He said the Marmora Volunteer Fire Company was rated Class 4 or Class 5 before the most recent evaluation. Before that, the fire company had a rating of Class 9, Newman said.