Understanding Fire Protection Classes
One of the tools that homeowner insurance companies use to determine how much you will pay for your homeowner insurance is your fire protection class. Fire protection classes range from 1 – 10. An independent company rates City and County Fire Stations. This company is ISO or Insurance Services Office.
Some of the factors that are used when ISO rates a City or County Fire Station are:
• Number of fire trucks
• Amount of water the fire trucks can carry to the scene of the fire.
• Amount of water the fire trucks can pump per minute.
• Number of firemen that are employed by the City or State is also a factor.
• Basically, ISO is looking at the response time and how much man power and equipment is available to put out the fire upon arrival.
The fire protection class is assigned to your home based on your responding fire department and its fire class. The class is determined by the responding fire department that will respond in the event of a fire. If you are inside the city limits, you are assigned a protection class based upon the city's protection class.
If you are not inside the city limits, then your protection class is based upon the county protection class. If you are in the county, there are two factors that can impact for fire protection class: these two factors are the number of miles your home is located in proximity to a fire station and the number of feet that your home is located in proximity to a fire hydrant. In order to qualify for the fire protection class of the closest responding county fire department, your home must be located within 5 miles of the station and within 1000 feet of a fire hydrant. 1000 feet is the approximate length of 3 football fields. If you meet these two criteria, then you will be assigned a protection class 1 – 8 based upon the rating of the county fire station.
If your home is not within 5 miles of a responding fire department then your home is assigned a protection class 10 or 10W.
If your home is within 5 miles of a responding fire department but there is no hydrant within 1000 feet, then your home is assigned a protection class 9.
If you are assigned a protection class 1 – 8, then you can expect your insurance rate to be lower than a home that is assigned a protection class 9 or 10. The chances of a total loss to your home by fire are reduced because of the response time to your home and the availability of water to put out the fire.
There was a change last year in the way that ISO recognizes homeowners that are NOT located in the city limits but are paying fire protection to a city fire department. You may be familiar with paying an annual subscription to the city to take advantage of the city fire protection. In the past, if you were outside the city limits but within 5 miles of the city fire station and you have a hydrant within 1000 feet, you could pay an annual subscription rate that would allow your insurance company to use that cities protection class as your fire protection class. Last year, ISO stopped honoring subscription based rating. This has impacted homeowner’s insurance rates that have been paying the annual subscription rates. In some instances where there is not a county fire station within 5 miles your protection class may have changed to a class 10 or 10W causing a drastic increase in your insurance rates or home being uninsurable.