Onset Fire improves ranking to save residents money

Jun 16, 2020

The Onset Fire District is now among the top five percent of fire departments in the country, as determined by the Insurance Services Organization, and that means that Onset property owners can expect to save some money on home insurance. 

The organization has a comprehensive system used to rate the efficacy of fire departments and water distribution across the country, and ranks them on a one to ten scale, with one being the best.
Each improvement in a department’s rating decreases the cost of fire insurance for residents. 

In 2014, Onset was ranked as a four, and Chief Ray Goodwin recalled an ISO representative saying it was unlikely that the department would be able to improve much beyond that. In 2014, the implementation of a fire prevention program and more inspections brought the ranking to a three. In September, the district will be a two. 

That ranking is rare overall, putting the district in the top eight percent of districts in the state, but is particularly noteworthy because most of the departments with that rating are much larger with exclusively full-time firefighters.

In Massachusetts, there are 26 class two departments (including Onset) and only seven in class one. 

Goodwin said that some of the changes that have allowed the district to improve its rating have included upgraded software that pings the phones of every on-call firefighter in case of emergency, and frequent inspections of businesses with pre-incident planning.
Every Onset business is inspected twice a year by the fire department, usually by a team of four or five people. That means that there are about ten people on staff with detailed knowledge of the building.

The crews also note the location of any hazardous materials in the building and the gas and electric shut-offs. 

“You don’t realize how beneficial it is until it’s 2 a.m. and the building is dark and filled with smoke,” Captain Jeff Dias said. 

Goodwin said that he hopes to get the department to a class one ranking. To get there, he is working to expand the call firefighter roster and do more training.