ISO Rating

As of May 1, 2017:  Stevensville Rural Fire District and Town has an ISO Rating of 4/10.

For the Stevensville Rural Fire District and Town of Stevensville Fire Department, the ISO (Insurance Standards Organization) rating is based off two major categories: distance from the closest responding fire station, and distance from a fire hydrant or water drafting source.



Thanks to the support from the community of Stevensville we are able to work hard at improving our ISO rating.  We will keep you posted on this effort!

Stevensville Rural Fire District sees Improvements in Buildings, Equipment and Training

  • Planning then executing the plan through time is what it takes to make improvements that benefit the whole community.

    Stevensville Rural Fire District is accomplishing decades of planning. They have received a better rating that taxpayers will see through lower insurance costs, they are building stations that work and meet today’s needs with room for expansion, and they continue to serve the community.

    Stevensville Rural Fire District Chief Rex Olson said planning began 30 years ago, which was before he became chief.  He said the Stevensville Rural Fire District worked with the Insurance Standards Organization, the group that rates fire districts for insurance. Class-1 is the best fire protection available and Class-10 representing less than minimum fire protection.

    May 1, the Stevensville Fire District, for both rural and town, was re-classified from a Class-6 rating to a Class-4 rating.

    “The lower your number the cheaper insurance because there’s a better likelihood of saving your property,” Olson said. “The process takes time. It is not a quick and simple thing. It is a lengthy process and you have to have the numbers to back it up.”

    Olson said the ISO looks at response times, the number, type and condition of engines, training hours, types of training, road conditions, water supply levels and availability and the number of responders that get to a call.

    “In Ravalli County we use automatic mutual aid,” Olson said. “Mutual aid partners in other districts maintain and establish the best rating available for the residents in our fire district.”

    Olson said the district improvements included upgrading engines, added a water tender, upgraded the heavy rescue engine, certified water fill-sites within the fire district and an increased the ability to flow water from 500 gallons per minute to 1,250 gallons per minute.

    Jim Moerkerk, chairman of the Stevensville Rural Fire District board, said the efforts to receive a lower ISO number is paying off.

    “It’s been a big accomplishment to go from a six to a four. It took a lot of work,” Moerkerk said. “It is a significant investment by the district and that’s the message we want to get out to the taxpayers.  It should be a savings on their fire insurance.”

    Former Fire Chief Bill Perrin said the better ratings are happening more often and that success comes from planning.

    “The organization has to have in their mind what has to be done and as you do things over period of years you work toward that,” he said. “We improved our equipment and we have automatic mutual aid agreement.”

    Perrin said that in the ISO rating process one paid employee is the equivalent of three volunteers so having volunteers from other departments arrive on the scene can be counted as their staffing.  

    “There’s been a valley wide improvement because of the cooperation,” he said. “It is the volunteer system that makes it work. No way could you afford to provide the staffing. We have 40,000 people in the valley and we couldn’t do it.”

    The Stevensville Rural Fire District has four locations.

    Etna Fire Station is being built at 356 Willoughby Land, replacing the old Etna station on Hwy 93. It is 3,000 square feet with three apparatus bays, a meeting room with a kitchenette and a bathroom.

    Trustee Bill Anderson said the Etna station previously had meager quarters.

    “It’s time to step up,” he said. “It is a solid, quality facility that will last a long time without breaking the bank. It’s the right thing to do.”

    Anderson said he worked on the Stevensville Fire Department in the 1980s then worked as a fire division chief in southern California.

    “I always knew I’d be back,” he said. “I’d put them head to head. There’s a lot of pride in the organization.”

    The fire department purchased four acres at Westside, on Kinsman Drive, and is having a 4,400 square feet five-bay facility built. It will have drains, running water, large sinks for cleanups, room for repairs, storage and restrooms.

    “We’re financing that,” Moerkerk said. “We got an extremely good financing package through Farmer’s State Bank. We have enough cash flow so we didn’t have to go to the taxpayer and they won’t see an increase.”  

    Carlene Quilter is the administrative assistant at the Stevensville Rural Fire District.

    “Volunteers go on calls because they want to help others when someone is having a bad day,” Quilter said. “Our motto is ‘The Desire To Serve, The Courage To Act and The Ability To Perform.’"

    Olson said volunteers are critical because the fire station is busier.

    “In 2014, the fire district responded to 505 calls. In 2015, the fire district responded to 578 calls,” he said. “In 2016, the fire district responded to 644 calls. Of that 49 were fires (structure, car or grass) and 475 were emergency medical responses.”

    Olson said the improvements to the Stevensville Rural Fire District mean the community has better firefighting capabilities.

    Moerkerk said he hopes the improvements will increase the recruiting efforts.

    “We can always use volunteers,” he said. “Medical, fire fighting, or both or help with support.

    We can always use volunteers and we can always find something for them to do.”