Monticello’s ISO rating has improved from a five to a four, which could lead to lower insurance premiums for property owners.

“It’s extremely important that people who purchase fire insurance to check with their insurance agent and see if they’re going to get a reduced rate because they all don’t give reduced rates for better ISO ratings,” said Monticello Mayor Allen Maxwell.

Maxwell credits Monticello Fire Chief Steven Faulkner, the firemen, the city’s property inspector Brian Rodgers and Monticello Economic Development Commission director Nita McDaniel for the improved ISO (Insurance Service Office) rating.

“The goal, when I took office, was to improve the ISO rating primarily to improve our service to the public but also because almost every city around us had a better rating than Monticello,” Maxwell said. “We need to be leading the pack instead of following.”

Since then, the city has taken a number of measures to improve fire protection services, including the purchase of new firefighting equipment, repair of fire hydrants, routine commercial building inspections, and more hours on the dispatch system.

Maxwell learned when he took office that 55 of the city’s fire hydrants were not operable. Only five of those 55 couldn’t be repaired, so it was basically a maintenance issue, Maxwell said.

“All fire hydrants are now working,” Maxwell said.

The city is also inspecting all commercial buildings twice a year, something that the city hadn’t been doing but was required by the fire code, according to Maxwell.

The city also spent more than $60,000 on miscellaneous firefighting equipment to help improve the ISO rating and the purchase last year of a $235,000 fire tanker truck also helped improve the rating.

“We’re also paying for more hours on the dispatch system,” Maxwell said. “”ISO wants two dispatchers, 24 hours a day. We’ve always had one but now we’ve got periods of busy time where we have two dispatchers and that helps the rating. Ultimately, we’re going to have to have two dispatchers if we continue to grow and continue to improve our ISO.”