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Trust, experience give PPC an edge in rating fire protection

Fire protection in the United States didn’t grow up overnight. It arose and evolved piece by piece, and to this day, fire protection is changing in large and small ways. Any measure of its effectiveness requires trust from the fire service that the evaluators are fair and knowledgeable—and trust takes time to build.

Trust opens doors to a wealth of data that serves as the foundation for a reliable rating system. With time, ISO has made its PPC® (Public Protection Classification) ratings the most reliable by leveraging relationships forged over more than three decades to gain unsurpassed depth of knowledge.

The results speak for themselves. For example, unlike other solutions, PPC has extensive field-verified information on water supplies, including more than 9 million hydrants, 4,300 tanker-shuttle systems, and 1,000 suction points.

PPC also has exclusive, granular, local information from thousands of fire protection agencies on:

  • firefighter training
  • community risk reduction
  • emergency communications
  • mix of volunteer and full-time personnel
  • departments known only to ISO
  • fire district boundaries, including changes
  • station openings and closures

These databases are continually updated and enhanced through constant contact with the firefighting community, including some 10,500 in-person and 9,000 remote surveys a year—with the latter drawing a 74 percent response rate.

More than distance alone

Other rating systems may rely on distance or drive time to the nearest fire station as part of their evaluation. But Verisk research has shown that 20 percent of the time, the closest fire station to an address is not the responding one. PPC captures those instances, and it’s not a trivial distinction.

Accurately identifying the responding fire station, combined with an array of additional data points, makes PPC nine times more powerful at predicting future fire loss than distance to the nearest fire station alone. Learn more from this Verisk study released in May 2018.

Like the fire service it monitors, PPC has a long history and a track record of adapting to changing times and technologies. But when it comes to putting out fires, water is the oldest and still the most widely effective tool. For measuring fire protection, PPC is also time-tested and effective, and it’s getting better with age.

Download the white paper The Distance Fallacy in Fire Protection to learn more about the methodology and results of a recent Verisk study.

Josh Gibbons

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

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