Are you a homeowner? Do you have home insurance and know your ISO rating? In small communities an ISO rating is huge to homeowners. Communities are given an ISO classification that determines what residences and businesses pay for insurance premiums. An ISO rating of 1 is, “the best possible fire protection,” and 10 being no fire protection at all. Residents who live in rural fire districts want to make sure their fire department maintains a low ISO rating for their property.
An ISO rating is based off 3 main categories. The biggest weighted category is the department itself, whether the apparatus and equipment is able to protect the community, being 50% of the total score. The communities water supply and hydrant system is worth 40% of the score. Last they look into fire alarms and fire prevention, 10% of the score.
When the ISO looks at the department, they make sure the department tests its pumps regularly, checks its inventories frequently and has enough equipment, firefighters and engines in the community to even fight a fire. A minimum equipment list is provided by ISO to the department. They then dig deeper, making sure training is provided and that members are attending the trainings. They look into past emergency response, averaging how long it takes the department to respond and with how many firefighters.
When the ISO rates the water supply, they look at the water system provider. Insuring that the system has sufficient water supply for suppression beyond daily maximum consumption. ISO looks into all components of the water system, including pumps, storage and filtration. To determine the rate of flow the water mains provide. ISO observes fire-flow tests at representative locations throughout the community. For communities without fire hydrants, they must have other ways to provide the gallons of water required for maximum fire protection.
Last ISO looks into how a department receives fire alarms and dispatches its resources. They look at the firefighter receiving the call back and at the counties 9-11 emergency dispatch center. They look at how many 9-11 operators and how many calls per dispatcher are received.
Researching these three categories they will than assign an ISO rating to that community. What is interesting is how insurance companies have been looking at how close a home is to a fire station. Using that as rating guide, when they shouldn’t. The problem is that insurance agencies don’t even check with the local fire department to even see if the property or home is in its fire district! A house can be a mile from a fire station but not protected if it is not in the district. You may laugh, but it is always amazing how many rural residences don’t even realize they are not in a district. Yet think they are protected because a fire station is nearby.
Insurance companies are starting to realize they are getting burned when homeowners say / think they are in a district, when truly they are not. Make sure you are not that homeowner. Fire departments get active in going to those out of your district, but in your response area and work towards a contract with the fire department or annexation. The savings in the reduced ISO rating will pay for it. Most importantly we want to do as our mission statement says… dedicating our efforts to provide for the safety of the public through the preservation of life, property and the environment.