Longmont Fire Department Sees Fewer Fires, Better Insurance Rating and Success with Cardiac Arrests

January 5, 2019
Longmont Fire Department Cpt. Casey Cloud works to insert a tube into (intubation) the airway of a training dummy during a training session on new devices at Longmont Fire Station No. 1 in Longmont on Jan. 4, 2019.

The Longmont Fire Department saw a significant reduction in fires from 2017 to 2018, as well as a drop in its Insurance Services Office rating and slight increase in its success rate with cardiac arrests.

This past year, the city had 171 fires, down 26 percent from 232 fires in 2017, according to fire services Chief Jerrod Vanlandingham.

The decrease is not yet a trend, as the number of fires has remained steady over the past few years, but Vanlandingham said in an email it could be an indication that fire prevention efforts such as educating the public and updating fire codes and planning requirements are working.

“While fighting fires is a relatively small percentage of what Fire Services does . . . it is still of the most dangerous issue facing the public and our firefighters,” he said. Fires account for less than 3 percent of the department’s call volume.

While there were fewer fires this year, they still caused some damage. The department had its first civilian fatality due to a fire since 2016 , Vanlandingham said, when a man died in November after a fire broke out in his mobile home on 17th Avenue. The total fire loss for the city also exceeded $5 million due to the unsolved arson in June at the Target store on South Hover Street.

Since 2017, the department’s Insurance Services Office rating has lowered from four to two, which is considered a better score.

This may or may not affect homeowners’s insurance rates. Coban Bassett, manager of Bassett Insurance Group on Fourth Avenue, said that whether people receive discounts will largely depend on their carriers. For example, Safeco Insurance discounted policies by 10 percent when the rating dropped to two.

But Dave Chrisman, owner of the oldest State Farm Insurance Agency in Colorado on Main Street in Longmont, said most insurance companies put areas with class four or lower ratings in the same rate category, so the premium changes could be minimal.

“Once fire suppression gets to a certain point of expertise, then it really doesn’t affect the insurance rates of homeowners,” Chrisman said.

The most important factor for insurance ratings in Colorado is the weather, he said. Some areas with higher fire ratings but fewer weather events, like hail, will have cheaper insurance. While Longmont isn’t severely affected, the number of hail storms plays a role in homeowners insurance, Chrisman said.

The department’s cardiac arrest success rate increased slightly from 43 percent to 45.6 percent in 2018, which is more three times the national average rate of 14 percent. Lt. John Michael, who is also a paramedic, said the department has increased its success rate by more than 325 percent since 2014.

″ We developed and implemented a very focused, refined approach in our EMS system to how we provide care to a person in cardiac arrest,” Michael said. “Our current pre-hospital (success) rate is one of the highest anywhere in the nation.”

The total number of calls for fire, rescue and emergency medical services stayed relatively steady in 2018 at 10,310, Vanlandingham said.

Madeline St. Amour: 303-684-5212, mstamour@prairiemountainmedia.com