Insurance Services Office (ISO) - Fire Insurance Classification

Date: December 22, 2015

Sublette County Unified Fire Receives Improved Fire Insurance Classification

(Pinedale, WY) Sublette County Unified Fire was recently evaluated by the Insurance Services Office, Inc. (ISO) on their structure fire suppression capabilities. ISO's collects and evaluates fire-related information from communities in the United States and assigns Public Protection Classification (PPC) grades for each fire department. The PPC grade is a number from 1 to 10. Class 1 represents exemplary fire suppression, and Class 10 represents limited or no available fire protection.

Sublette County Unified Fire Chief, Shad Cooper explained, "After our unification efforts last year, we requested ISO to come to evaluate our fire department again. Before we consolidated the six fire departments into a single organization, the Town of Pinedale was classified with an ISO rating of 6, the Towns of Big Piney/Marbleton were classified with an ISO rating of 5, and the unincorporated areas of the county were classified as either a 9 or 10, depending if the property was within five miles of a fire station".

After our unification efforts, we were re-evaluated and assigned a new ISO classification of 3/3X. This means properties located within 5 road miles of municipal water supply were classified as a 3. Properties located within 5 road miles of the outlying fire stations (Bondurant, Daniel, Boulder, and Kendall Valley) were classified as a 3X; and properties over 5 road miles from a recognized fire station were classified as a 10, explained Cooper.

The ISO summary report for the new PPC grade explains that a fire department's capabilities can be evaluated and categorized as a predictor of potential fire losses for a community. A community's investment in fire protection will correlate to lower fire losses. This information can be evaluated through statistical data on insurance losses, available water supplies, 911 dispatch systems, and the fire department's capabilities. This information allows insurance companies to use the ISO grades to establish fair premiums for homeowners and commercial fire insurance. In general, the price of fire insurance in a community with a good PPC grade is substantially lower than in a community with a poor PPC grade.

Fire Chief Cooper further explained It is a major accomplishment to receive such a great PPC grade from the ISO. For a fire department to improve from a 6 to a 5 is a big deal. For us to improve from a 6 in Pinedale all the way to a 3 is absolutely unprecedented. The ISO summary report explains there are over 48,000 fire departments across the United States evaluated by the ISO. In 2015, there were only 132 fire departments in the U.S. classified with a PPC grade of 1; 1,060 fire departments were classified with a PPC grade of 2, and only 3,056 fire departments were classified with a PPC grade of 3.

Fire Chief Cooper explained That puts Sublette County Unified Fire in the top 10% of fire departments in the U.S. This really helps illustrate how beneficial it was for us to consolidate the six separate fire departments in the county into a single, unified organization. Earlier this year we had two large simultaneous fires where we were able to respond with over 42 firefighters to the two incidents. It is absolutely unheard of for a volunteer fire department to be able to respond with so many firefighters and share resources like that. The dedication and commitment of our volunteers to help our communities is just extraordinary.

The PPC grade will also serve as a valuable benchmark for our organization as well. We can use this information to help us identify our weak areas and focus our planning efforts. Based on the information from ISO, we can concentrate on providing better water supplies in our rural areas. It is important that we continue to develop more water draft site locations and fire protection water cisterns in remote subdivisions. We also need to include large water haulers, or tenders, in our capital improvement plan as we move forward. Our ability to shuttle large amounts of water to remote areas will be critical in the future explained Cooper.

For more information about how this may affect property insurance rates, please contact your property insurance provider. Additional information can also be found at the Insurance Services Office, Inc. (ISO) website.


See documentation from the ISO by viewing the Letter (PDF).