Jaynell Graham\r\nEditor\r\n\u00a0\r\nIt was announced at Monday night\u2019s Marlinton Town Council meeting that Marlinton Fire Department\u2019s ISO rating had improved from a 5 to a 4, effective March 1, 2017. That is good news for the department, and it is good news for property owners within the department\u2019s response area, as those owners could see a reduction in their fire insurance premiums.\r\n\r\nA published Fire Apparatus and Equipment Market Newsletter article titled \u201cUnderstanding ISO Ratings,\u201d offers some insight to the layman as to just what this rating means.\u00a0\r\n\r\n\u201cThe Insurance Services Office, Inc. (ISO) evaluates fire departments in the United States. Based on this evaluation, they assign a rating between 1 and 10 for each department \u2013 1 being the best and 10 being the worst. This rating reflects the overall effectiveness of the department and helps determine the fire insurance premiums for property owners in that department\u2019s jurisdiction.\r\n\r\n\u201cThe ISO rating is based on the total number of points in three categories: fire department \u2013 50 points; water supply \u2013 40 points; and communications \u2013 10 points. Each of these three categories is further divided into various sub-categories. For example, the fire department category includes points for apparatus, staffing, training and the distribution of stations. The water supply category includes points for sustained flowrate, water system maintenance, type of supply, etc.\u201d\r\n\r\n\u201cThe quality of service we provide is as good as any paid department,\u201d Fire Chief Herby Barlow said.\r\n\r\nMayor Sam Felton added that the town\u2019s commitment to fixing water leaks and repairing and replacing hydrants had helped to improve the rating, as well.\r\n\r\nThe newsletter article went on to say, \u201cImproving a department\u2019s ISO rating is more than just an ego boost for the chief. It can, and does, result in a significant cost savings on fire insurance for every property owner within the department\u2019s jurisdiction.\u201d\r\n\r\nWhile council has amended the Fire Fee Ordinance for town residents, as of now, no action has been taken with regard to a mandatory fire fee for the department\u2019s response area (First Due Area) \u00a0outside town limits, where the department responds to 82 percent of its calls.\u00a0\r\n\r\nAt the present time, the fire department is receiving a set monthly fee from the town, based on fire fees paid by residents within the town limits, with the balance of fire fee monies being held in an escrow account for replacement of equipment and big ticket items, Town Attorney Laura Finch said.\u00a0\r\n\r\nThe discussion turned to the need for implementation of fire fees for the First Due Area.\r\n\r\n\u201cPlease understand what we\u2019re asking,\u201d Barlow said. \u201cWe had very little opposition to the increased fire fee in town, but eighty-two percent of our calls are out of town and you (town council) have the authority to implement this First Due Area fee, and that\u2019s what we\u2019re asking for.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe have two trucks down there, at $500,000 a piece, that need to be replaced. The town was flooded in 1985 and the federal government stepped in and bought all this new equipment and made the fire department what it is today, but there was never a plan in place for capital expenses down the road, so we\u2019re in a bind right now because getting parts for maintenance on those vehicles is getting out of hand.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe\u2019ve got a tanker engine that needs to be replaced today. We have a breather system that needs replaced tomorrow. We really need your support on this First Due Area fee.\u201d\r\n\r\nCouncilmember Mark Strauss agreed.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe need to do it,\u201d he said. \u201cThe town has to be the one to do that.\u201d\r\n\r\nBarlow talked about the work that was done by the fire department and the town, which will reduce fire insurance premiums for many homeowners, and he talked about the number of trained personnel on the department, including an unusually high number of paramedics.\r\n\r\n\u201cOur goal, down the road, is to have 24-hour coverage with at least two people here or at the 911 property at all times, so that when the tones drop, the first engine or the first bus (ambulance) is out the door within a matter of getting up and putting their shoes on,\u201d Barlow said.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe are not looking at a paid department, but a paid call area.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe have a ton of training downstairs and we do an awesome job. I\u2019ve been here thirty-five years, and I\u2019m saying we\u2019ve got a great thing going, but we need everybody that we provide service to to support us.\r\n\r\n\u201cYou guys (council) have that authority.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe council will address issues pertaining to the implementation of the First Due Area fire fee in the new year.\r\n\r\nAlso on Monday night\u2019s agenda was a presentation by Family Resource Network director Laura Young.\r\n\r\nYoung presented a proposal to council with regard to a grant which would be used to erect a covered structure for the town\u2019s farmers market. The multi-use facility could also be used for events surrounding the Greenbrier River Race, the RoadKill Cook-off as well as being available to \u00a0rent for family reunions, etc.\r\n\r\nThe FRN is non-profit, so Young asked the town to sign onto the grant application, thereby, if the grant is awarded, the town would allow the facility to be built on town property, would hire a contractor and would take on any costs associated with maintaining it.\r\n\r\nGrant application deadline is December 30, and, if awarded, the project deadline date for completion would be June 30, 2017.\r\n\r\nThe council also approved a $500 donation to Allegheny Mountain Radio, noting its importance to the county.\r\n\r\nCouncil meets the first Monday of each month at 7 p.m. in council chambers on the second floor of the Municipal building.