Earning recognition

Baldwin Volunteer Fire Department earned one of the highest ISO ratings in the state

BALDWIN—For months the Baldwin Volunteer Fire Department has been crunching numbers and gathering statistics for the Insurance Services Office (ISO) inspection, which rates fire departments nationwide on performance and maintenance. 

The high ranking the Baldwin Volunteer Fire Department received is a testament to the hard work of a fire crew who takes their position very seriously and a community who fully supports them, said Baldwin Volunteer Fire Department Chief Marty Walker. 

“The ISO rating is from one to 10, one being the best score,” explained Walker. “We received a four, which is the best posting for a volunteer fire department statewide. This score is comparable to fully staffed and paid fire departments. Grand Rapids Fire Department had a rating of three, and Holland and Kentwood earned a four rating. Most full-time departments in the state earned a six or eight. Most volunteer fire departments received an eight to 10 ranking, so our rating is up there.”

Ratings are based on such things as training, how long it takes for a truck to get to a scene, the number of personnel that respond to a scene and maintenance to equipment such as trucks, hoses, etc.

Walker explained the high ISO score improves everyone’s insurance rates in the county.

Because the ISO is a national ranking for fire departments, Walker feels the high ranking for Baldwin reflects very well on the local area. 

Walker is quick to give credit to the men and women firefighters who serve on the Baldwin Volunteer Fire Department. 

“The men and women of this department did the heavy lifting. They deserve the recognition,” Walker said. “They only had six months to prepare for the inspection and they invested a lot of time gathering documentation.”

Walker explained changes in the village of Baldwin also impacted the rating in a positive way.

“Len Todd (Village President) and the Village Council made difficult decisions the past couple years to raise water rates. The cost of water went up, but the changes reflected well on the ISO rating, and now people have lower insurance rates because we have a better water system and better quality water,” he said.

Full support of the Village Council and of the community keeps morale high for the fire department, added Walker. 

“There is a lot of cooperation between the fire department, the Village Council, business owners and the over-all community,” Walker said. “A local business just called me earlier because they want to host a benefit supper for the department. Our fire department has a full roster now. To have people willing to volunteer to help someone they have no prior connection to is heartwarming.”