The Panama City Fire Department is gaining some bragging rights tonight, as the Insurance Services Office (ISO) rates the agency as one of the highest-performing departments in the nation.
The ISO ratings are done every 5-10 years. They judge the fire departments and the water system using several criteria. Panama City got positive marks.
"The Panama City Fire Department falls into the top four percent of fire departments in the nation as far as ISO is concerned," Panama City Fire Department Chief Wayne Watts said.
The rating is determined by four criteria: the city's needed fire flow, their ability to receive and handle fire alarms, the fire department itself (from training to personnel), and the overall water supply.
The system works on a scale of 1 to 10 - 1 being the best rating. In the previous ISO rating. Panama City South received a 4 rating, and Panama City North received a 9. This time around...
"Panama City South, or Panama City proper as we know it, has a rating of 3," Chief Watts said. "Panama City North, the area that was annexed a few years ago, has a rating of 9."
For those of you with fire insurance on your home or your business, the good ratings in Panama City South may come with an added benefit - more money in your pocket.
"It's supposed to help on the homeowners and fire policies," said Maureen Frost, a manager at Taylor Insurance.
Frost says a lower Panama City South rating will help lower rates, but they wont know how low for another few months.
"Once it goes into place then we'll be able to discuss it with the customers so they can call their agents," Frost said.
So aside from the fire protection they to provide the city, Chief Watts says there's one more service they can provide as a result of the ratings...
"We can potentially lower our citizens costs so that they maybe have some more money to enjoy themselves around town."
The rating for the north end is a 9 because PCFD hasn't fully established operations up there - basically waiting until the department funding matches the need. Once it does, they hope to drop that ISO rating lower.