The Insurance Services Office (ISO) is an organization that assesses property risk and scores fire departments across the United States. The Public Protection Classification, or PPC, is a program developed by the ISO that measures how well a city is equipped to fight fires. After a review, the fire department is scored and given an ISO rating that reflects their performance.
The PPC is an essential tool for cities and fire stations to know where they stand and how they can improve. While tedious, the review process offers an independent check on the station’s procedures and preparedness.
Insurance companies look closely at these ratings and use the number when setting the homeowner’s insurance premiums for citizens. The better the PPC, the lower the rate. Equally as important, an ISO rating is used by companies to compare different cities when evaluating corporate headquarter relocation bids.
When calculating a PPC score, the ISO looks at four key areas including emergency communication systems, the fire department, water supply, and community risk reduction. Fire stations and their staff are often commended or chastised based on the rating, so improving your score is a smart idea. Here are three ideas for how you can enhance your ISO rating.
Developing and following a pre-fire plan is a smart idea for any fire station. This can be anything from a simple checklist to a complex set of decision guides. While having a pre-fire plan in place counts towards your ISO rating, actually following it will help you achieve more significant benefits over time. Setting and adhering to a defined process will help your team be more efficient and will ultimately keep everyone safer. Becoming more process-based will facilitate record keeping and get everyone putting more of an emphasis on compliance.
Writing at Firehouse.com, Bob Galvin explained the importance of pre-fire planning by stating “pre-fire planning should be a top priority because it will ensure improvement in the department’s ability to make the firefighters’ workplace safer.”
Ultimately, a robust pre-fire plan will help keep homeowners and the community the firefighters serve, safe. While lower insurance rates are beneficial, saving lives is the most critical driver, and a pre-file plan will help do both.
Divide & Conquer: Set up an ISO Committee
Preparing for an ISO review is a tremendous amount of work and requires great attention to detail. A smart strategy for dealing with the thoroughness of an assessment is to divide up the work between members of your team.
By breaking the review requirements up into sections, you can assign a leader for each central component of the assessment. That person will be responsible for learning the code, doing online research, handling that section of the paperwork, etc. Breaking it into components makes the amount of information more manageable.
Preemption and Priority System
Implementing a modern preemption and priority system is a proven way to improve your ISO rating. These systems provide emergency vehicles with green lights, so they arrive at the scene of an incident faster and more safely. In addition to keeping firefighters safe en route to an emergency, a preemption system can cut response times by as much as 30%.
The ISO considers the communication abilities of your station and evaluates total response times so having an active preemption system in place is a smart way to help your rating and the community. Additionally, newer GPS and cellular-based preemption systems are even more efficient and make reporting and data collection much more manageable.
The Bottom Line
Improving your ISO rating takes work, but it can be done. Even if you’re sitting at an 8 or 9, with some effort you can raise it. Careful attention to detail is crucial, but leveraging technology is also a way to help your department be more efficient in helping the community and ease the reporting process.