ISO Ratings

by mobrian on February 17, 2009

Do I need to Worry About ISO?

Many fire departments benchmark on their ISO classification and work to decrease the magic number. What is ISO and what resources are available for the local fire department?

Known as the Insurance Services Office (ISO), they provide information to insurance organizations to utilize, modify or  ignore. Insurance companies use ISO information to help establish fair premiums for fire insurance. Overall, carriers offer lower premiums in communities with better protection or a lower rating (generally speaking).

Most fire departments work on the Public Protection Classification (PPC) program.  ISO evaluates municipal fire-protection efforts in communities throughout the United States and the statistical ability to extinguish a fire.  These ratings are on 1-10 scale and are calculated on multiple factors of the fire department and community.  A 1 rating is the highest score a community can achieve on its PPC.

The PPC is calculated on three overlying areas

  1. Alarm system including the dispatch center.  These items include equipment, staffing, telephone systems and training.
  2. The Fire Department including training, equipment, location of stations, training etc.
  3. The water supply system and its capabilities to provided needed fire flow in the event of a fire.

There are more detailed requirements from each of the three and the web-page contains resources for the community on various schedules, tracking information, and detailed guides on the how the ratings are calculated.

In addition ISO can look at how a community can withstand or react to a disaster based on its local building codes. The Building Code Effectiveness Grading Schedule (BCEGS) program assesses the building codes in effect in individual communities and how those communities enforce their building codes. The assessments place special emphasis on mitigation of losses from natural hazards. If you break the concept down: municipalities with well-enforced, up-to-date codes should demonstrate better loss experience, and insurance rates can reflect that.

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