As a result of an analysis by the Insurance Services Office (ISO) of the structural fire suppression system, Athens-Clarke County received a new Public Protection Classification (PPC) of 01/1X as of May 1, 2019. In Georgia, only 24 out of 159 counties have the highest Class 1 rating, while in the United States only 348 communities out of 41,177 rated have a Class 1 rating (0.8%).
In each community, the ISO analyzes data and assigns a grade of 1 to 10. Class 1 represents an exemplary fire suppression program, while Class 10 indicates that the area's fire suppression program does not meet minimum criteria. The PPC evaluations are based on criteria that use standards developed by the National Fire Protection Association and the American Water Works Association.
A community's PPC grade depends on:
- emergency communications systems, including facilities for the public to report fires, staffing, training, certification of telecommunicators, and facilities for dispatching fire departments;
- the fire department, including equipment, training, staffing, operations, and distribution of fire stations and personnel; and
- the water supply system, including the inspection and flow testing of hydrants and a careful evaluation of the amount of available water compared with the amount needed to suppress fires; and
- community efforts to reduce the risk of fire, including fire prevention codes and enforcement, public fire safety education, and fire cause investigation.
The PPC plays an important role in the underwriting process at insurance companies. Most insurers in the United States use community classifications as part of their decision-making process to determine coverage to offer and prices for personal or commercial property insurance. Although the new classification may not affect rates for residential insurance coverage, it is expected to have a positive effect for many business policies.
Each insurance company independently determines the rates it charges its policyholders based on a variety of factors. 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, assuming all other factors are equal.
The ISO used a comprehensive questionnaire, along with meetings with staff from the Fire and Emergency Services Department, Police Department, and Public Utilities Department, to collect data on Athens-Clarke County. The PPC grade is based on a 10-point scale, with Class 1 designation for those grades of 90.00 or above. Athens-Clarke County received a 90.21.
Only features related to reducing property losses from structural fires are evaluated as part of this process. Life safety and other non-fire suppression responsibilities of fire departments are not evaluated as part of this process. The program evaluates the fire protection for small to average size buildings, while specific properties that require a larger fire flow are evaluated separately and assigned an individual PPC grade.
For a split classification such as a 1/1X, the first number is the class that applies to properties within five road miles of the responding fire station and 1,000 feet of a creditable water supply, while the second number is the class that applies to properties within five road miles of a fire station but beyond 1,000 feet of a creditable water supply.
The Insurance Services Office (ISO) is an independent company that serves insurance companies, communities, fire departments, insurance regulators, and others by providing information about risk. For more information about the PPC program and their Community Hazard Mitigation Program, visit www.isomitigation.com.
For more information about the Athens-Clarke County Fire and Emergency Services Department, visit www.accgov.com/fire or call 706-613-3360.