Richland County and the City of Columbia have achieved dramatic drops in Insurance Service Office (ISO) ratings from a national assessment agency – and residents could benefit by getting savings on insurance bills.
The County received a Class 2 ISO rating, improving from a previous rating of Class 4. Columbia improved from a Class 2 to a Class 1 – an achievement that less than one 1 percent of other communities nationally have attained. The County’s Class 2 rating places it in the top 2 percent nationally.
Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins, along with officials from the County and Columbia announced the results of the ISO Public Protection Classification (PPC) ratings at a news conference Wednesday.
Many insurance companies use ISO as one of several factors to determine fire protection ratings that affect homeowner and business insurance premiums. The PPC classification ranges from 1 to 10. A rating of 1 denotes superior fire protection, while a rating of 10 indicates almost no fire protection is available. The Insurance Services Office has been evaluating and assigning ratings to fire departments since 1971.
ISO currently rates more than 48,600 fire-protection areas in the United States, of which 601 are in South Carolina.
Richland County has obtained its highest rating by advancing to a Class 2 from a Class 4, after its last inspection in 2006. This Class 2 rating places Richland County in the top 2 percent nationally and is one of only 73 of the 601 fire-protection areas in South Carolina to reach this significant accomplishment.
The Columbia Fire Department is now one of only 14 fire-protection areas in South Carolina to currently have a Class 1 rating. This is Columbia’s first Class 1 rating in the Columbia Fire Department’s 113 year history.
The process of determining a fire protection rating includes a comprehensive evaluation of four major components. These components are:
· 911 centers’ ability to answer/dispatch calls efficiently
· Dispatching hardware/software upgrades
· Backup generator power for call center
§ Water Supply
· Robust city pressurized system (hydrants)
· New pressurized system in the Richland County area (Hopkins)
· Substantial rural water supply strategy to include daily/weekly training and record retention
§ Fire Service
· Training efficiency, frequency and record retention
· An aggressive equipment/apparatus replacement and inventory accountability/tracking program
· Exemplary record of response times to structure fires
§ Community Risk Reduction
· Juvenile fire setter intervention programs
· A grass roots smoke alarm installation program
· Code Enforcement program supported by a collaborative team effort by both County and Columbia code officials