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Deadly Delays: The Decline of Fire Response
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Map of Stow fires
THIS MAP shows locations and response times for building fires from 1990-2002
Building fires: Green diamond  1-5 minute response Fire stations: Fire truck icon
Yellow diamond  6 minute response Click here for an interactive map
Red diamond  7-29 minute response

Stow Fire Department

Community served: Stow, Mass.
Department type: Mostly volunteer firefighters
Fire stations (department)1: 1
Fire stations (town): 1
Square miles (town): 18.1
Square miles per station (town): 18.1 [ See rankings ]
1 Some communities have more than one fire department.
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Deadly delays

An exclusive Globe investigation into fire response times.
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On-time response rates
On-time rate, building fires receiving a response within 6 minutes, 1986-2002: 48.4%
[ See rankings ]
   On-time rate, early years, 1986-1998: 47.6%
   On-time rate, recent years, 1999-2002: 50.0%
1986-1998 1999-2002 1986-2002
Fires with on-time response 10 5 15
Fires with slower response 11 5 16
Total building fires studied 21 10 31

ISO insurance ratings
Insurance companies use ratings from ISO, a New Jersey company, to help determine fire insurance premiums. ISO rates communities on a scale from 1 (best) to 10 (no protection). The ratings are based on the community's fire department, water supply, and dispatch communications. The ratings are not based at all on response times. The same scale of 1 to 10 is applied to the effectiveness of building codes. In a split fire rating, such as 4/9, the second number applies to properties more than 1,000 feet from a hydrant.
ISO fire protection rating, Nov. 2004: 6/9
ISO building code rating, residential, Nov. 2004: 5
ISO building code rating, commercial, Nov. 2004: 5

Municipal spending on fire protection
Fire spending FY 2003 (town only): $369,565
Fire spending as percent of total budget, FY 2003 (town only): 2.5% [ See rankings ]
Fire spending as percent of total budget, FY 1987 (town only): 0.8%
Fire spending per capita, FY 2003 (town only): $60 [ See rankings ]
Fire spending per capita, FY 1987, in 2003 dollars (town only): $14
Change in fire spending per capita, 1987-2003 (town only): 330.5%
Change in other municipal spending per capita, 1987-2003, adjusted for inflation (town only): 32.2%
Fire spending per housing unit, FY 2003 (town only): $178
Fire spending per square mile, FY 2003 (town only): $20,429

Community information
County: Middlesex
Population, 2004 (estimate): 6,132
Occupied housing units, 2000: 2,082
Median family income, 1999: $102,530
Population growth, 1990-2000: 10.8%
Population growth, 1980-1990: 3.6%
Tax base (assessed value per capita), FY 2004: $153,820
Total assessed value, FY 2004: $943,161,800
Single-family tax rate, FY 2004: $14.64

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