April 4, 2013
MCFRS News Release
Fire Service Enhancements Raise County’s Public Protection Classification
Higher Ratings Could Mean Lower Fire Insurance Premiums for Residents and Businesses
Montgomery County, MD - Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett and Fire Chief Richard Bowers announced today that enhancements in the County’s fire service have raised its Public Protection Classification rating by the Insurance Services Office, Inc., following a comprehensive audit and evaluation. The new rating, which took effect on April 1, could mean savings on fire insurance premiums for residents and businesses.
Insurance Services Office (ISO), which collects information about municipal fire protection efforts in communities throughout the United States, is the leading supplier of statistical, actuarial and underwriting information to insurance companies, fire departments, insurance regulators and others. ISO’s Public Protection Classification program objectively measures and evaluates municipal fire departments according to a uniform set of criteria, incorporating nationally recognized standards developed by the National Fire Protection Association and the American Water Works Association. ISO uses a rating system of 1 to 10, with Class 1 being the highest fire protection rating. The Public Protection Classification (PPC) rating is one of many variables that insurers consider when developing their fire insurance coverage programs.
Montgomery County’s new rating by the ISO, based on a 2012 audit and evaluation, is Class 3 for urban areas (improved from Class 4 in the previous classification), and Class 6 for rural areas (improved from Class 9).
The County’s last ISO evaluation occurred in the mid-1970s. The rating split between urban and rural areas reflects the County’s mixed land use. Almost a third of the County’s land resources – encompassing more than 93,000 acres – is designated as rural.
The overall PPC rating reflects the total capability of the department to respond to and meet the fire protection demands of the community. The determination of Public Protection Classification ratings are based primarily on three areas, each of which is weighted:
- The community’s emergency communications capabilities, including 911 telephone systems, adequacy of telephone lines, operator supervision and staffing, and dispatching systems. (10 percent)
- The quality of the fire department, including adequacy of equipment, sufficiency of staffing, level of training and the geographic distribution of fire stations. (50 percent)
- The evaluation of the water supply, which includes the condition and maintenance of fire hydrants; existence of alternative water sources; and the amount, volume and pressure of available water compared with the amount needed to suppress fires. (40 percent)
The higher Public Protection Classification ratings awarded to Montgomery County’s fire service largely reflect the longstanding, successful effort by career and volunteer personnel to develop a rural water resource strategy. The strategy involved identifying rural water sources and increasing the inventory and strategic placement of large capacity tanker trucks. The higher ratings also reflect other improvements including increased staffing and equipment, and faster response times – funded by the Emergency Medical Services Transport Reimbursement Program, which provides $14 to $18 million annually to meet critical Fire & Rescue Service needs, at no added cost to County residents.
“Montgomery’s outstanding fire and rescue service is one of the many reasons why the quality of life in our community is so good,” said County Executive Leggett. “I am especially pleased that the high level of service this County provides has the potential to result in real savings for our residents and businesses in terms of lower insurance premiums.”
“We are pleased with our improved ISO rating. Our personnel work tirelessly to ensure that residents receive the best fire protection and emergency medical services,” said Fire Chief Bowers. “The improved rating truly demonstrates the hard work of the men and women of this department and provides an important benchmark to measure the effectiveness of our department and to plan for improvements. Water supply capability was a very important aspect in determining our rating, and as Montgomery County continues to grow, we will need to make further investments to maintain the improved PPC ratings,” said Fire Chief Bowers.The PPC ratings provide guidance to insurance providers and are one of the many factors that affect insurance premiums. Business and property owners should contact their insurance agent to determine whether they qualify for any change in insurance rates.