NEW YORK, Feb. 21, 2001 — Ninety percent of U.S. fire chiefs say the Public Protection Classification®, (PPC) program from Insurance Services Office, Inc. (ISO) is "very important" in helping their departments "save lives and property," according to a recent independent survey conducted by Opinion Research Corp. International.
Another 7 percent of fire chiefs said the ISO program is "somewhat important" in helping them save lives and property, according to findings of the Princeton, N.J.-based research group.
Moreover, 92 percent of fire officials surveyed said they considered the impact on their public protection classification as somewhat or very important when "planning for, budgeting, or justifying improvements or changes" in their communities' public fire protection.
"The overwhelmingly positive response we received from the nation's fire fighting community validates the usefulness of ISO's Public Protection Classification program in advancing fire safety as no other endorsement could," said Frank J. Coyne, ISO's president and chief executive officer.
"The survey results confirm a long-held insurance-industry view that ISO's PPC program provides a significant incentive for communities to improve their fire departments and maintain them at the highest possible level," said Coyne." These encouraging results reinforce ISO's strong commitment to continue and strengthen the Public Protection Classification program as an effective way of improving safety and reducing fire losses."
Property/casualty insurance companies use ISO's protection classifications to develop premiums for homeowners and commercial-property insurance policies. To classify a community's ability to suppress fires, ISO rigorously evaluates the community's fire department, water supply and alarm-dispatch capability against objective criteria applied countrywide. Such criteria include comparisons against nationally recognized standards established by the National Fire Protection Association and the American Water Works Association.
ISO's classifications run from 1 (exemplary) to 10 (not meeting minimum criteria). Because the quality of fire suppression correlates highly with insured losses, better classifications generally result in lower insurance premiums for policyholders. The program is funded by insurers at no cost to municipalities or taxpayers.
Another key finding is that 96 percent of fire chiefs said they found the ISO PPC program important in helping their "communities save money on fire insurance."
" Beyond providing insurers with a highly accurate pricing tool, the ISO grading program provides communities a powerful incentive to maintain the best fire-protection service they can in accordance with ISO's uniform, objective criteria," said Dennis Gage, ISO's manager in charge of the PPC program.
The survey was conducted over a one-week period from January 12-19, and included responses from 501 fire chiefs, fire marshals, commissioners and other fire officials. The respondents represented officials for fire-protection jurisdictions of all sizes across the United States.
ISO has classified more than 45,000 municipalities and fire districts throughout the United States.
"We see clearly that the program is working," said Gage. "When we regrade communities, we see improvements in more than half of the cases. When communities make improvements in their fire protection, they expect — and deserve — prompt recognition in the insurance premiums they pay," said Gage.
In the past decade, the number of the yearly structural fires declined by 101,000 to 523,000 in 1999 from 624,000 in 1990, according to the National Fire Protection Association. But over the same period, increases in the value of buildings and their contents have resulted in a $2-billion increase in yearly fire losses, to $11.5 billion in 1999 from $9.5 billion in 1990.
"Those staggering losses don't begin to cover the full scope of fire costs," said ISO's Coyne. "The losses do not encompass the enormous additional costs of medical treatment, lost wages and temporary housing. Clearly, the public and the property/ casualty insurance industry have a huge stake in maintaining a time-tested, objective program that encourages strong fire protection and delivers accurate rating information," said Coyne.
ISO is a leading source of information, products and services related to property and liability risk. For a broad spectrum of commercial and personal lines of insurance, ISO provides statistical, actuarial, underwriting and claims information and analyses; consulting and technical services; policy language; and information about specific locations. In the United States and around the world, ISO serves insurers, reinsurers, agents, brokers, self-insurers, risk managers, and insurance regulators and other government agencies.