Whether we like it or not, paying for insurance is a fact of life. Homeowner and business insurance companies use many factors when determining the cost of your premiums. One major factor is the level of fire protection. Most insurance carriers use what is known as ISO to determine the quality of fire protection available and therefore establish insurance rates.
ISO stands for Insurance Service Organization. This is a group of trained, professional evaluators that assess almost every fire department in the U.S. ISO uses a consistent set of guidelines to evaluate a fire department. ISO bases a fire department’s rating on many factors including the number of personnel on duty, training level of personnel (paid or volunteer), the amount of water the fire department can get to a fire, and the amount and quality of equipment used (such as fire engines and hand tools). The purpose of ISO is to give insurance companies a uniform system on which to base their insurance premiums.
For an insurance company, knowing the capabilities of a fire department is important. The better the fire department, the better protected a building is from fire damage and loss. The higher the level of protection, the less likely an insurance company will have to reimburse a claim for fire damage. The fewer number of claims, the lower the cost for the insurance provider. Of course, fire protection can work the opposite way. A sub-par fire department will experience more fire losses. More fire losses means more insurance claims filed. In order to make costs meet, the insurance companies raise the premiums you pay.
ISO gives a ranking of 1 through 10, with 1 being the best and 10 being no protection at all. Currently the Borough of Woodland Park along with West Paterson Volunteer Fire Department has an ISO rating of 3. This rating was obtained in 2010, after many years of being rated 4.
To obtain an ISO Class 3 with a department consisting of 100% volunteer firefighters is a rewarding task. In the nation only 3.6% of fire departments are an ISO Class 3 and within the State of New Jersey 13% of fire departments are an ISO Class 3.
Essential Elements a Fire Department must have to receive a Class 3 rating:
* Fire Department must have pumper capacity to suppress a fire in any building in the community
* Fire Department must have a 24 hour central dispatch for contacting all firefighters on duty via pagers
* Must have fully equipped reserve apparatus
* Annual tests must be conducted on pumper trucks, hoses, and hydrants
* A minimum number of firefighters must be active in the department and respond to alarms
* Firefighter training must greatly exceed minimum standards
* The department and community must have a definitive, reliable, and pressurized water supply
* Must perform annual fire code building inspections
ISO ratings are one of the many factors that affect insurance premiums. Age of the structure, construction material, and loss history in a particular area also affect the base rate. Factors such as property value, deductible amount, multiple policies, security systems, and credit ratings affect an individual’s rates.
First Responder Article - West Paterson Fire Department Acheives ISO Class 3 Rating