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The nuances of fire station type in predicting future losses

Some property insurers may be seeking single-variable answers to fully assess the relative quality of fire protection. Last year, Verisk™ explored the fallacy behind using distance to fire station alone. Now, a new Verisk study analyzes the effectiveness of fire station type and ISO’s Public Protection Classification (PPC®) separately and in combination with each other.

Insurers may expect a full-time, paid fire company to be more highly trained and experienced, better equipped, and faster to respond. But Verisk data suggests it’s not such a simple measurement. New data confirms significant differences between considering fire station type alone and taking a more holistic approach—the kind that PPC uses. Verisk’s analysis shows that PPC is 3.58 times more predictive of fire loss than simply using fire station type.

Capturing the finer points

Many nuances can be lost in an overly simplified distinction between volunteer and paid fire services, and numerous factors in community fire protection go far beyond station type. For example:

  • Some departments combine volunteer personnel with paid firefighters who staff stations around the clock.
  • Levels of community support and availability of volunteers can vary widely, affecting individual stations’ capabilities.

What does PPC do that fire station type alone can’t? It examines numerous traits that characterize each community’s fire protection and its relative fire prevention and firefighting capacities. Sophisticated tools such as PPC can help property insurers capture the nuances of the fire service when evaluating a community’s fire protection capabilities. Applying granular information to underwriting and rating decisions can have a material effect on loss experience, which in turn has implications for profitability across a portfolio.

Download the white paper, How Fire Station Type Factors into Evaluating Community Fire Protection, to learn more about the methodology and results of Verisk’s study.

Josh Gibbons

Josh Gibbons is product director for ISO’s PPC program. He can be reached at

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