Letter to Editor
Ross L. Morgan
It is anticipated that the Insurance Service Office (ISO) will be visiting Shepherdstown in the near future to survey our community and evaluate our fire protection features and capabilities. The ISO rating received during this survey will have a direct impact upon commercial property insurance rates in Shepherdstown for the next decade. The Shepherdstown Fire Department will be working hard to be well prepared for the upcoming Insurance Service Office survey.
Shepherdstown, like many historic communities, has a downtown business district where combustible buildings are constructed side by side with no physical distance separation between the structures. These buildings are typically a combination of first floor mercantile, business and public assembly uses, with residential uses on the upper floors. The inherent risk with this arrangement is that a fire originating in any one of the properties may quickly endanger multiple adjoining structures on both sides. We are primarily concerned with the two downtown blocks on German Street.
On Saturday, Feb. 18, 2012, members of the Shepherdstown Fire Department will be conducting a survey of the properties on German Street with the primary goal of determining what type of construction exists between the individual properties. We are particularly interested in reaching attic areas to determine where common walls extend tight to the underside of the roof deck.
Our visit should be viewed as a pre-fire planning activity. This is not a code inspection. It is not our intention to conduct an inspection and develop a list of violations to be corrected. Participation on your part is completely voluntary. We are asking for your assistance in order that we can be better prepared to serve you.
Our members will carry identification and I will be present during the survey. We hope that you will be willing to allow us to enter your property during this survey. We will certainly do our best to have no impact upon your normal transaction of Saturday business.
Please do not hesitate to contact me at the fire station at 304-876-2311 if you have any questions.