By Chief Erich Wuersching: Just over twenty years ago, the Cloudcroft Fire Department membership committed itself to improve our fire departments capabilities and our firefighters ability to excel when responding to any structure fire within and surrounding the Village of Cloudcroft. The Insurance Services Organization’s (ISO), Public Protection Classification survey (PPC) is a nationally recognized rating organization as well as New Mexico’s accepted standard which measures a fire department’s ability to respond to a structural fire (in a home or business). The PPC program evaluates fire protection services throughout the United States under the general principal that a community’s investment in fire mitigation is a reliable predictor of future fire losses. Based on PPC survey results, a rating is assigned by the ISO to a community’s fire protection district. The survey is very comprehensive. Some of the factors which are analyzed are fire apparatus and equipment, communications systems (911 and radios), water storage and delivery systems, commercial building pre-plans and perhaps most importantly, firefighter training and response. The survey offers the potential to earn thousands of individual sub-points, ultimately resulting in a rating on a scale of Class 1 to 10 (1 representing the highest level of proven capability). ISO does not differentiate between Paid or Volunteer Departments. All Fire Departments have an equal responsibility to the community and are therefore rated as equals. To achieve success, every goal must have benchmarks and a timeline. Our initial goal long ago was to request an inspection every 5 years until we reached an ISO rating of 4. We began this quest in 1994 and our first upgrade was realized in 1997 when we were moved from an ISO Class 8 to a Class 7. The next grading was requested in 2002 when we were again upgraded from a Class 7 to a Class 5. Between 2010 and 2012, we were evaluated twice and received a rating of Class 4. As our rating continued to improve, we discovered that although the grading scale appears linear (a 100 point scale divided into 10 equal point groups), it is anything but. The higher in the ranking you go, the required effort becomes exponentially more involved. Accepting this challenge, carrying the load and bearing forward, Cloudcroft’s fire suppression services continue to improve in the face of the demands of an ever changing environment. Now, in 2017, the Cloudcroft Fire Department proudly announces our success in attaining an **** ISO, PPC - Class 3 **** for the Village of Cloudcroft. The Cloudcroft Fire Departments rating of 3 is the highest ever achieved by a municipal, all volunteer fire department (without pay), in the State of New Mexico. It places Cloudcroft in the top 6% of all 365 fire departments within N.M. and in the top 10% of all 46,042 departments rated nationwide.
Does this complete our goal? Yes….. but now we have a new goal! After a short breather and some celebration, we hope that you will continue to support us in our quest to become the first and only ISO Class 2, all volunteer (without pay), Fire department in New Mexico. Only 10 other departments statewide have attained this level of protection and performance and of those, all are paid departments (in some form) …….none are 100% volunteer…... We may be the first once again! All of our volunteers enjoy a huge sense of accomplishment but also deserve an appreciative thank you for achieving this huge milestone as it not only shows the high potential for saving lives and property but it also may save everyone money by way of reducing commercial and home insurance rates (depending on your carrier). Most insurance companies base their premiums for fire insurance on this rating so check with your agent and begin to reap yet another benefit of living in Cloudcroft. We want to mention that although this has historically been a fire department led effort, it not only requires great teamwork within the Fire Department but also requires great partnering with the Public Works Department to achieve this level of success. Many thanks and kudos go to Jubal Hall, Scott Powell and the entire maintenance crew for maintaining and continually improving our water system. Additional thanks go to the Otero County Dispatch Center for continually improving their communication system in support of us.