An improved insurance rating obtained by the Summit Fire Department could mean lower insurance premiums for some local businesses and homeowners.
The Summit Fire Department has received a Level 2 rating by the Insurance Services Office through their Public Protections Classification. The rating was given following a review of the department’s services that took place this past spring. According to fire officials, the rating could help business owners or owners of large homes to reduce their fire insurance premiums.
Prior to this rating, the last time the department was reviewed was in 2000, when it received a "split rating" of 3.9. The Fire Department's rating has since improved to a Class 2.
According to a press release from the Summit Fire Department, Class 1 indicates superior performance for a fire department, while Class 10 suggests the department does not meet the minimum requirement set by the ISO. There is currently only one fire department in the U.S. out of the 678 ISO rates, with a Class 1 rating. Summit joins a small population of 10 other departments in NJ with a Class 2 rating.
The ISO evaluates fire departments by looking at the following categories which were outlined in a press release from the Summit Fire Department:
- Fire Department Operations — First Alarm response, initial attack, number of engines and truck companies, equipment, staffing and training. This portion accounts for 50 percent of the final grading.
- Water Supply — Water flow capacity and conditions and types of fire hydrants. This portion accounts for 40 percent of the final grading.
- Fire Alarm Communications — Staffing of the dispatch center, dispatch center equipment and handling of calls. This portion accounts for 10% of the final grade.
Summit Fire Chief Joseph Houck said he wanted to get the word out about the department’s ISO rating to benefit those living or owning a business in Summit.
The chief pointed out that many businesses and some of the schools do not have sprinkler systems or extensive sprinkler systems that could inflate their fire insurance costs. By receiving a high ISO rating, this could reduce the costs for Summit businesses, large commercial buildings and even some large homes.
A copy of the official letter from the ISO is posted on the fire department’s website. This letter can be printed out and presented to insurance companies.
Houck said that the Summit Fire Department’s push to gain international fire service accreditation was an important factor in receiving a high ISO rating, since both processes look at similar factors.
Departments that meet the criteria instilled by the International Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI) gain the international fire service accreditation. Summit is one of only two departments in New Jersey with CFAI.
Houck said both the accreditation and Level 2 ISO are “thanks to the good work of a lot of the folks here.”
“The men and women here do outstanding work,” he said.
Houck added that the firefighters are out there everyday, even through this nasty weather, because they have a strong commitment to service for the residents of Summit.
According to Houck, Summit is the only firehouse in New Jersey that receives 911 calls for the city via their own dispatch center. This advantage probably gained them some extra credit during their evaluation for the CFAI accreditation and ISO rating, he said.
Although the ISO rating was announced in August, it officially went into place on Dec. 1.
For information on the Insurance Services Office (ISO) and a more detailed look at the ratings, visit isomitigation.org.