HELEN - The Helen City Commission agreed Tuesday to explore purchasing a second fire truck for the city.
Helen Fire Chief Lee Poteat told the commission the city maintained a 4/9 split, with all residences and businesses within five miles of the fire station and within 1,000 feet of a fire hydrant receiving a rating of 4.
A couple of issues were raised, however, in the Public Protection Classification Summary Report prepared by Insurance Services Office Inc. of Marlton, N.J., in January.
One factor that affected the city's ISO rating was a divergence of -10.36. Divergence is defined as the difference between the water department/distribution and the capabilities of the fire department.
Poteat said the department has a required fire flow of 3,500 gallons per minute, which is available only through automatic aid agreements, but said he would like for the city to be less dependent on outside help initially.
"Right now we're in need of a second engine to meet our fire flow," Poteat said.
Currently, the department doesn't receive full credit for its ladder truck because it is counted for water flow.
"Their recommendation is that we have two more trucks," Poteat said. "One is an engine. The other is a service truck or possibly a heavy rescue truck."
Commissioner Dona K. Burke asked Poteat his opinion.
"What do you see that the fire department needs to do a better job?" Burke asked.
"Build upon our fleet," Poteat said. "Right now, two additonal trucks."
He also cited additional personnel as a need, but noted the department's average response time of eight minutes is good for a volunteer department.
Poteat said he isn't asking to try to achieve an ISO rating of 3, but instead his goal is making sure the ISO 4 is maintained.
"If we go to a 5, my premiums would go up about 20 percent," Commissioner Jeff Ash said.
Ash suggested the city formulate a committee to look at bringing a new piece of fire apparatus online in the next year or two.
Poteat said the city has about 3.5 years until its next ISO evaluation.
"Let's get everything together without pulling the trigger," Ash said.
Mayor Judy Holloway agreed.
"I really think we should move forward and see what's out there," Holloway said.