What is an ISO Classification?
ISO (Insurance Services Office, Inc.) is an independent company that serves insurance companies, communities, fire departments, insurance regulators, and others by providing information about risk. ISO collects and evaluates information from communities in the United States on their structure fire suppression capabilities. The data is analyzed using a Fire Suppression Rating Schedule (FSRS) and then a Public Protection Classification (PPC™) grade from 1 to 10 is assigned to the community. Class 1 represents an exemplary fire suppression program, whereas a Class 10 indicates that the community’s fire suppression program does not meet ISO’s minimum criteria.
ISO's PPC program evaluates communities according to a uniform set of criteria, incorporating nationally recognized standards developed by the National Fire Protection Association and the American Water Works Association. A community's PPC grade depends on:
► Fire Department, including equipment, staffing, training, geographic distribution of fire companies, operational considerations, and community risk reduction.
► Emergency Communications, including emergency reporting, telecommunicators, and dispatching systems.
► Water Supply, including inspection and flow testing of hydrants, alternative water supply operations, and a careful evaluation of the amount of available water compared with the amount needed to suppress fires. This includes needed water flows which are representative building locations used to determine the theoretical amount of water necessary for fire suppression purposes.
► Community Risk Reduction, community efforts to reduce the risk of fire, including fire prevention codes and enforcement, public fire safety education, and fire investigation programs.
Arcata Fire has received what is called a split classification. The first number is the class that applies to properties within 5 road miles of the responding fire station and 1,000 feet of a creditable water supply, such as a fire hydrant, suction point, or dry hydrant. The second number is the class that applies to properties within 5 road miles of a fire station but beyond 1,000 feet of a creditable water supply.
The jurisdictional area for the Arcata Fire District is 62 square miles, a great deal of which is rural with limited water supply, but fortunate enough to be within 5 road miles of one of the three stations.
But how does it affect me?
Here in Humboldt County, we have been lucky not to have had any serious wildfires....yet. However, with all of the wildfires that have occurred throughout the State of California, even in areas and communities not prone to wildfires, insurance companies are changing the way homes are evaluated for homeowners insurance. As a result, rates are being raised dramatically or insurance is simply being dropped for hundreds of California Residence.
In the Arcata Fire jurisdiction, it is the residents who live in the 3Y areas of the District that are affected but still covered. Those areas with limited water supply are known both to District staff and to the communications dispatch center. Fire responses to those areas automatically trigger the inclusion of the District's water tender which carries with it 3000 gallons of water. If circumstances warrant, additional water resources can be requested to assist.
Local residents are fortunate thus far, however, it has been a struggle to convince insurance companies of the fact that Humboldt is a little different than most areas, even if you live among the trees. But keep in mind that regardless of where you live, it is still up to the insurance to determine your rates and many have begun using their own rating methods and not relying on the ISO. They may also utilize the fire hazard severity zones set forth by CalFire. To check which zone your home is located in, click on Fire Hazard Severity Zones and search your address.
How did we rate?
Arcata Fire District has created a document that provides a summary of our PPC attributing to the final community classification. If you would like to view or print this review, please feel free to download and print it here.