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West Columbia Fire Department announces their latest ISO rating is coveted Class 1 or Superior ratin

West Columbia, SC - The City of West Columbia's Fire Department has dropped from an ISO Class 3 to a Class 1 according to their Fire Chief Chris Smith. He made the announcement at the July meeting of the West Columbia City Council Tuesday night.

ISO is an abbreviation for the Insurance Services Office, a company that measures the ability of fire departments to handle operations and emergencies. ISO then shares that rating with the insurance industry. Those companies use the rating as a major factor in the pricing of fire insurance in the area. An ISO Class 1 is considered Superior and can significantly reduce the cost of insurance premiums for businesses and homeowners. A Class 10 department is considered to have fallen short of minimal standards and sometimes referred to in the fire service industry as unprotected.

By classifying a community’s ability to prevent and put fires out, ISO helps the communities evaluate their public fire-protection services. The program provides an objective, countrywide standard that helps fire departments in planning and budgeting for facilities, equipment, and training. Lowering fire insurance premiums for communities with better rated public protection, provides incentives and rewards for communities that choose to improve their firefighting services. These premium savings are why investing in your fire service can often pay more than it cost in the long run.

Seeing a department reach the coveted ISO Class 1 is no easy task. ISO evaluates everything from the equipment that a department possesses to their training program and fire hydrant system. Even the building inspection program is factored in proving departments have a clear, working inspection program for preventing fires before they start.

Split ratings can be awarded based on factors like how close the nearest fire hydrant is to a portion of an area covered by a fire service. In a department with a split rating, the areas that have fire hydrants close by can receive a lower rating than an area covered by the same department but is farther away from a usable fire hydrant. To have an area-wide Class 1 is something that only a fraction of fire departments obtain in the US.

Mayor Bobby Horton said, “We are pleased to be able to announce the improvement in our ISO ratings. The improvement in the rating is due to the increase in the quality and efficiency of our fire department which saves residents on their insurance premiums.”

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