The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

January 11, 2014

Lower insurance costs on horizon

Rating improves with new lines

SHARPSVILLE — Sharpsville officials learned recently that their efforts to improve fire protection capability have paid off.

An insurance industry group told officials recently that the borough’s “public protection classification” -- a measure of the town’s ability to respond to fires -- has improved significantly.

“We’ve gone from a 6 to a 4,” Borough Manager Ken Robertson said of the rating by Insurance Services Office Inc. of Marlton, N.J. “The lower the better.”

The classification is part of the formula insurance companies use to calculate fire insurance rates.

Robertson cited annual projects in a continuing program to replace water lines and hydrants as well as to strengthen training for firefighters and the borough’s building code inspector as reasons why ISO has upgraded Sharpsville’s classification.

“We are replacing water lines and hydrants,” Robertson said of efforts to upgrade the distribution system by about a half-mile each year. “That means a greater flow of water to any potential fire.”

The borough has replaced nearly 50 percent of its distribution system since the last ISO classification five years ago.

“Our goal is to maintain that good rating,” he said. “We will do that by continuing to update the water system. The project for 2014 will remove the majority, if not all, of the 4-inch lines in Sharpsville and replace them with 8-inch lines and hydrants.

Greg Fertig, who works with Stan Alfredo Insurance Agency in Sharpsville, said companies use the classification as part of their calculation of fire insurance rates. Each company sets its own rates independently but Fertig said property owners may see reductions because the borough has worked to get its classification upgraded to the same level as in Hermitage and Sharon.

Some lines awaiting replacement are 80 years and maybe older, said Chris Scardina, adding that his house, built in about 1930, has “horrible water quality,” even with the filtration system he installed after buying it five years ago on West Ridge Avenue.

“The filters are supposed to last two months but we have to change them every week because our water quality is so poor,” Scardina said.

Robertson said he disagrees with that characterization.

“I want to stress that his water is tested regularly in that end of town,” Robertson said. “It always meets the state standard. We haven’t had a quality problem with his water.”

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