Designation may reduce insurance costs for homeowners, businesses
Henrico County has earned the highest-possible rating from the Insurance Services Office (ISO), a distinction that reflects highly on the Division of Fire and may qualify homeowners and businesses for lower property insurance premiums.
The county received a Class 1 rating in ISO’s Public Protection Classification Program based on a comprehensive evaluation of its emergency communications; fire department equipment, personnel and training; water supply; and fire-prevention efforts, including inspections and code enforcement.
“Protecting residents and their homes and businesses is the highest priority of Henrico County and the Division of Fire,” County Manager John A. Vithoulkas said. “This Class 1 rating from the Insurance Services Office is great news for our entire community. It reflects our high quality of life, our commitment to excellence in public service and our drive to build a stronger county as we grow.”
Henrico scored 95.66 points on a 105.5-point scale during a review this spring, well above the 90-point threshold to qualify for Class 1 status. The county previously held a Class 3 rating based on a score of 73.48 from 2011. Henrico’s classification reflects the relative low risk of fire losses in both developed and rural areas of the county.
Henrico’s superior rating could help reduce individual costs for property insurance because insurance companies use ISO or similar classification services to establish their rates. Insurance companies have found a correlation between a community’s investment in fire protection and future fire losses. In general, that means property owners in areas with better ISO ratings represent a lower risk and therefore qualify for lower insurance rates.
ISO has reviewed 48,754 communities and fire districts across the United States. Only 132, or 0.3 percent, have earned a Class 1 rating. In Virginia, four out of 765 communities and fire districts, or 0.5 percent, hold a Class 1 rating: Henrico, Fairfax County and the cities of Charlottesville and Newport News.
Henrico is the first county in the country to have both a Class 1 ISO rating and a fire department accredited by the Commission on Fire Accreditation International.
“The Division of Fire takes great pride in helping Henrico achieve this superior rating from the Insurance Services Office,” Fire Chief Anthony E. McDowell said. “This accomplishment is a credit to the training, professionalism and commitment of the men and women of our department and the support we enjoy from the community, including the Board of Supervisors, other county leaders and, especially, Henrico residents.”
The Division of Fire provides fire protection and suppression services as well as emergency medical services to Henrico. With 548 employees and a $52.7 million annual operating budget, the department logged nearly 44,000 calls for service, including 733 fire calls, during fiscal 2014-15.
The department operates 20 firehouses across the county’s 244 square miles and is served by a modern emergency communications system, with enhanced 911 capabilities and computer-aided dispatch facilities, plus an extensive water-distribution system that includes more than 12,500 hydrants. For information, go to henrico.us/fire.