The city of Marquette's investments in infrastructure may pay off in a safer city and long-term financial benefits for city residents.
After a recent independent inspection by the Insurance Services Office, Marquette's fire protection rating jumped from a 5 to a 3 on a 10-point scale, with a 1 score indicating the best possible fire protection.
The ISO bases 50 percent of the final rating on the fire department, 40 percent on the municipality's water supply and 10 percent on the area's dispatch and notification capabilities. Marquette improved in every area since the last ISO inspection 18 years ago.
Marquette City Fire Chief Tom Belt said the ratings bump could be tied to improvements in two key areas: the fire department's training program and support from city government.
We give plenty of credit to city government for aggresively pursuing infrastructure upgrades. Beginning about 15 years ago, city officials and managers made a concerted effort to to improve the water service - putting money and labor into upgrading Marquette's old and inefficient water system.
Water mains of 4 and 6 inches in diameter have been and continue to be replaced by newer, 8-inch mains. As the size of these mains grows, more water and better pressure becomes available for homeowners and firefighters.
An increased rating from a national organization is great - and it serves to make our community an even more attractive place to live or work - but it may bring some concrete benefits as well.
Belt said he began contacting insurance industry representatives after he learned of the city's ratings improvement, to see what effect it might have on homeowner's insurance rates for city residents.
He said approximately half of the insurers offering local policies indicated there might be lower rates as a result of the fire rating improvement.
Belt advised city residents to ask their insurance provider if the ISO rating will make a difference in their bills. We hope it does.
But even if there's no big financial impact, residents can rest easy knowing that their city is getting safer. These new numbers prove it.
A sincere congratulations goes out to everyone involved in lowering the fire protection rating.