Communities across the country are assessed for their ability to protect property from the loss by fire by the Insurance Service Office (ISO). Since the early 1970’s the ISO has applied their Fire Suppression Rating Schedule (FSRS) to each community to rate them for their ability to protect insured loss. The FSRS results in each community receiving a Public Protection Classification (PPC) which in turn is used by insurers to rate the risk of loss and those premiums paid by property owners. The PPC for a community’s overall fire protection system is based on a 1-10 point scale with 1 representing the highest protection available with a 10 reflecting an area with little or no fire protection. The North Carolina Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM) has adopted the Insurance Service Office FSRS and performs the rating surveys for fire departments in North Carolina with populations below 100,000 citizens.
Each specific area of the fire department’s operation is rated against a schedule of anticipated performance, and then against the community’s risk for fire. This overall assessment results in a score that is then applied to the PPC. The FSRS schedule is performance based and assigns credit points for each item. Using the adopted FSRS, credit points and various formulas, OSFM calculates a total score on a scale of 0 to 105.5 available points and considers four areas of a community’s overall fire suppression system:
- Emergency communications (911 call center). A maximum of 10 points of our community’s overall score is based on how well the 911 call center receives and dispatches fire alarms. Points are awarded based on how effectively calls for fires are processed, the number of personnel on duty, the number of available phone lines, employee training, policies and procedures and the availability of a backup power supply.
- Fire Department. A maximum of 50 points of the overall score is based on the fire department. ISO reviews the distribution of fire companies throughout the area and checks that the fire department tests its pumps regularly and inventories each engine and Ladder Company’s equipment according to NFPA 1901. ISO also reviews the fire company records to determine factors such as:
- Type and extent of training provided to fire company personnel
- Number of people who participate in training
- Firefighter response to emergencies (daily staffing levels)
- Maintenance and testing of the fire department’s equipment
- Pre-incident planning
- Fire Inspections
- Water supply. A maximum of 40 points of the overall rating score is based on our community’s water supply. This part of the survey focuses on whether the community has sufficient water supply for fire suppression beyond daily maximum consumption. ISO surveys all components of the water supply system. They also review fire hydrant inspections and frequency of flow testing. Finally, they count the number of fire hydrants that are no more than 1,000 feet from property locations.
- Community Risk Reduction: This section recognizes our community’s efforts to reduce losses through fire prevention, public fire safety education, and fire investigation. The Community Risk Reduction section of the FSRS offers a maximum of 5.5 additional points, resulting in 105.5 total points available in the FSRS. The inclusion of this section for “extra points” allows recognition for how our fire department employ’s effective fire prevention practices. The addition of Community Risk Reduction gives incentives our department incentive to proactively reduce fire severity through a structured program of fire prevention activities.
The Elizabethtown Fire Department last received an on-site fire suppression rating survey in 2008. At that time the community received a split rating of class 5/6. This rating represents a class 5 in the Town limits and a Class 6 in our County five mile fire district. The department continues to work hard to lower our current insurance rating in the near future. We have increased our level of fire protection through a comprehensive training program, increased staffing levels, improved equipment and technology upgrades and implemented a robust pre-fire planning program which supports updated fire inspections and response plans for each commercial and multi-family building in the Town. Property owners are encourage to check with their insurer to see if they use the ISO Public Protection Classification rating system and if an improved rating for Elizabethtown could save them money on their annual insurance premiums.
For more information on the Fire Suppression Rating Schedule, please visit the following websites:
ISO Fire Suppression Overview:
NC OSFM Ratings and Inspections: