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By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — The Colfax Community Fire Department has achieved an ISO rating of Class 4.
The new ISO rating was determined as of March 23, said Don Logslett, Colfax fire chief, at a meeting of the Colfax Community Fire District board on April 1.
Out of all of the fire departments in the United States, 7,000 of them are rated at a Class 4, he said.
According to online sources, there are nearly 30,000 fire departments in the United States.
An “ISO” rating refers to a company called the Insurance Services Office, which creates ratings for fire departments to calculate the ability of a department to put out fires.
The ISO provides the fire score to homeowners insurance companies.
The ratings range from Class 1 to Class 10.
Fire departments with a Class 1 provide the very best in fire protection services. Class 10 means the area has virtually no fire protection services or that the area’s fire suppression program does not meet ISO’s minimum criteria.
The categories used by the Insurance Services Office to rate a fire department include fire department quality in terms of the amount of equipment, whether firefighters are paid or volunteer and the amount of training for firefighters.
The ISO rating also includes the water supply system and whether fire hydrants are available or whether water must be hauled to fight fires.
Fifty percent of the rating is based on the fire department, while 40 percent of the rating is based on the water supply system, and the last 10 percent of the rating is based on the communications systems, including the quality of the dispatching system.
The Colfax Community Fire District includes the Village of Colfax and the Towns of Colfax, Grant and Otter Creek.
The Colfax Community Fire Department has 21 firefighters on the roster, Logslett said.
Ideally, the roster would have 30 to 35 firefighters, he said, noting that recruitment of new firefighters has been especially difficult over the past year during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 21 firefighters on the roster “are there” when the fire department is called out, Logslett said.
Over the years, it has become more difficult to find volunteers. The training takes time, and the state continues to increase the amount of mandated training, which now stands at 120 hours of training, he said.
Being a firefighter is a big commitment. No one wants to be called out at 2 a.m., said Gary Bjork, representative on the fire board for the Town of Colfax.
At the April 1 meeting, the Colfax Community Fire District Board also approved depositing a surplus from the 2020 budget of $22,973.22 into the vehicle equipment replacement fund.
The vehicle equipment replacement account previously had a balance of $185,956.43. With the budget surplus added in, the vehicle equipment replacement account would have a balance f $208,929.65.
The Colfax fire department also has a money market business account containing $43,525.27.
The Colfax fire department has purchased new helmets for the firefighters with financial assistance from the Town of Colfax.
The money was left over from the COVID relief funds distributed to municipalities by the federal government, Logslett said.
The money was distributed to municipalities based on the population of the municipality.
The Town of Colfax used part of the money received to improve lighting in the shop area so that meetings could be held in the shop to allow town board members and members of the public to spread out at the proper physical distance as per COVID guidelines, Bjork said.
Some of the money also was used to purchase the necessary equipment to allow the town board to hold their meetings using Zoom, he said.
Zoom is an online meeting platform.
After using the money for COVID projects, the town board donated the remainder to the fire department, Bjork said.
Every fall for the past 50 years, the Colfax fire department has held the Firefighters Ball as a fund raiser for the department — except for last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“If things hold together, we will try to do it this year,” Logslett told the fire board.
If the number of new cases of COVID-19 remains low in Dunn County, and if people continue being vaccinated, then it might be safe to hold the event, he said.
Since the Firefighters Ball is always in September, the firefighters have a while yet to make their decision, Logslett noted.