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How the Elrama fire department's failed ISO rating will impact residents

What does Elrama fire department's failed ISO rating mean?
What does Elrama fire department's failed ISO rating mean? 02:44

ELRAMA, Pa. (KDKA) — A fire chief in Washington County says he did not, but the township board said he did. 

Union Township residents are suddenly in a bind. Their volunteer fire department just got a failed public protection classification from the Insurance Services Office (ISO), putting their home and business policies at risk. 

"Part of the problem was there were eight fire hydrants that need to be tested, and for some reason (Pennsylvania American Water) didn't test those hydrants for the past two, three, four years. That's one issue for an ISO rating. The other issue was the people from the agency said they were contacting (Elrama Volunteer Fire Company of Union Township Fire Chief Lenny Bailey) and he said they never did, so I take his word for it," solicitor Dennis Makel said.

The township board passed a resolution on Thursday saying Bailey caused this chaos by failing to respond to ISO calls or letters for eight years.           

"They said they tried contacting us," Bailey said. "Never received any notification. I did get a letter to the township handed to me by the secretary that was addressed to the township but not addressed to the fire department."

The department's failed rating means many people can't sell their homes and homeowners insurance is being taken away. 

That's why Finleyville fire is becoming the Elrama area's primary department for now.

"We are getting notices that the fire insurance is being canceled or rates are going extremely high," Makel said. "We have people that may have to shut down their businesses. That is part of our concern tonight. Nothing against Lenny Bailey. I have full faith and credit in his fire department." 

Residents said the entire process has been frustrating. 

"There is a big lack of communication, and as soon as you found that letter out, you should have called Lenny or myself and we would have had it," one resident said.

Union Township's next step is testing fire hydrants and a formal meeting with someone from the ISO on March 6. That's where the ISO will audit the fire department and decide how to move forward.

"A lot of people are confused, up in arms," Bailey said. "We have been writing letters for insurance companies, we have been doing that, my guys have been working hand in hand every day. They got all their paperwork lined up for the ISO survey."

The temporary takeover by Finleyville fire will help keep residents' insurance policies intact. 

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