Jersey City, N.J. — Insurance Services Office Inc. (ISO), Jersey City, N.J., is working with United States Department of Agriculture/Rural Development in a joint endeavor to provide communities with information regarding the Community Loan and Grant Programs that are available through USDA/Rural Development and the Rural Housing Service.

The Community Loan and Grant Programs provide funds that may be used to improve municipal public safety systems. Grant funds are awarded to economically feasible projects in financially needy communities with populations of fewer than 20,000 people.

ISO has established a working relationship with USDA/Rural Development to deliver information on the Community Loan and Grant Programs to the 45,500 fire-protection districts within the United States. As part of the ISO Public Protection Classification (PPC) program, ISO evaluates each community's fire-protection system according to a uniform set of criteria, incorporating nationally recognized standards developed by the American Water Works Association and the National Fire Protection Association. This information may be used by insurance carriers when determining insurance premiums for a property within that community.

"We are including information about USDA's grant fund program in all of our direct communications with community fire officials," says Patrick McLaughlin, senior vice president of ISO. "We're very pleased to be working with USDA on this effort. Many communities may qualify for these funds and use them to improve the fire-protection and rescue services they offer their citizens. Improved facilities or equipment-including expanding the water services available for firefighting in a community-may improve their PPC rating, as well."

USDA/Rural Development loan funds may be used to construct, enlarge or improve public safety facilities, such as fire stations and buildings to house fire and/or rescue equipment. Funds may also be used to purchase fire trucks, ambulances or emergency communications equipment; to buy or build fire and rescue multi-service centers; and to pay necessary costs connected with those facilities.

USDA/Rural Development also administers water and wastewater loan and grant programs to improve quality of life and promote economic development in rural America. This assistance is available through Rural Development's Rural Utilities Programs. Open to municipalities, counties, special-purpose districts and Native American tribes, funds are available to cities and towns with a population of fewer than 10,000 to restore deteriorating water supplies or to improve, enlarge or modify a facility or an inadequate waste facility.

Information and applications can be obtained from any USDA/Rural Development Office. Applications should be made to the USDA/Rural Development State Office. The Community and Business Programs staff of the USDA/Rural Development Office will be glad to discuss services available from the agency and explain how to prepare a written application. For information on all programs administered by USDA/Rural Development, visit the national office Web site.

Source: Insurance Services Office Inc.

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