How the city got its rating
The Lawton Fire Department was responsible for half of the ranking that has made Lawton one of only three cities in Oklahoma to hold the top rating from the Insurance Service Office, but other city services contributed to the score.
City leaders learned in late January that Lawton would be moved to a Class 1 ISO rating, effective May 1, a designation now held only by Midwest City and Oklahoma City (for its areas with hydrants). Across the nation, only 471 of 47,000 fire districts hold Class 1 ranking, or less than 1 percent of those districts.
Kenneth Stoops, an ISO official who explained the ranking system to the City Council last week, said a total of 105.5 points are available through ISO's ranking system, with scores between 90 and 100 representing Class 1. Lawton scored a total of 92.29 in the four categories in which which the ISO analysis is conducted.
Factors in higher rating
Categories include emergency communications, which includes things such as Enhanced 911 service and computer-aided dispatching. The city earned a score of 9.85 out of 10 possible points.
Under community risk reduction, which includes things such as city policies and procedures for safety, Lawton earned a score of 4.55 out of a possible 5.55 points.
The fire department, which accounts for 50 possible points, was evaluated for equipment deployment, whether there are enough fire stations, personnel and training, ultimately earning a total of 43.18 points. Stoops specifically cited the fire training division's portion of the evaluation, saying it can't do any better than it already does. That area won 9 out of 9 possible points.
Water capacity contributes the second-highest score, at a total of 40 for details such as waterline capacity, hydrants and fire flow (the water pressure available to fight fires). The area won 34.87 points.
Fire Chief Dewayne Burk, who was honored last week with a citation from the Oklahoma Insurance Department, said the significant upgrade in Lawton's ISO rating was a combined effort by city departments and divisions, from fire and emergency communications to those who take care of the city' water lines and fire hydrants and create the policies that help make Lawton safer. Burk said that, for example, water employees have installed 67,000 feet of waterline and 47 new hydrants in recent years, work worth at least $8 million.
"It's a significant investment in the City of Lawton," he said, adding that the Class 1 ranking will benefit the city and its residents for the next five years, potentially through lower insurance premiums.
Burk said his department already has identified areas where it can improve, as have water officials with the City of Lawton, as they work toward the next ISO evaluation in five years.
"The challenge is: How do we maintain this?" he asked.