The Insurance Service Office (ISO) has awarded Goochland County a Public Protection Classification of 4/4X.
During the February 7th, 2023 Board of Supervisor’s 2pm session, Chief Ferguson announced the newly received ISO rating, following an almost year’s long process that culminated in an in-depth review of the County’s fire department and fire suppression capabilities. The last ISO review was in 2017, when the County earned a 5/5Y.
During the assessment, reviewers took into account the Fire Department capabilities (50%), Emergency Communications (10%), and Water Supply (40%) availability. Additionally, Community Risk Reduction programs allow for extra points. Examples of Community Risk Reduction are fire prevention and fire code enforcement, public fire safety education, and fire investigation programs. ISO's staff collects information about municipal fire suppression efforts in communities throughout the United States. In each of those communities, ISO analyzes the relevant data and assigns a Public Protection Class grade – a number from 1 to 10. Class 1 represents an exemplary fire suppression program, and Class 10 indicates that the area's fire suppression program does not meet ISO's minimum criteria.
The County’s ISO Public Protection Class has improved to a 4/4X classification, previously in 2017 it was a 5/5Y. A split classification for a community — for example 4/4X — the first number is the class that applies to properties within 5 road miles of the responding fire station and 1,000 feet of a creditable water supply, such as a fire hydrant, suction point, or dry hydrant. The second number is the class that applies to properties within 5 road miles of a fire station but beyond 1,000 feet of a creditable water supply.
This rating is utilized by insurance companies to establish underwriting and fair premiums.
In the letter announcing the new rating, the ISO stated, “A community's investment in fire mitigation is a proven and reliable predictor of future fire losses. Statistical data on insurance losses bears out the relationship between excellent fire protection – as measured by the Public Protection Class program – and low fire losses. Insurance companies use Public Protection Class information for marketing, underwriting, and to help establish fair premiums for homeowners and commercial fire insurance. In general, the price of fire insurance in a community with a good Public Protection Class grade is substantially lower than in a community with a poor grade, assuming all other factors are equal.”
Chief Ferguson thanked the Board for their support, saying, “We are excited about this, we couldn’t do it alone, without the support of the Board to have the right resources and support of other County Departments.” Ferguson also commended the Goochland County Sheriff’s Office on their Emergency Communication system, which was a critical part of the review.
It is important to note that this review was focused only on structure fires and did not take Emergency Medical Services response into account. The new ISO rating will go into effect on May 1, 2023 and may take up to six months to impact insurance rates. For more information on how this rating could impact insurance rates, residents and business owners are encouraged to contact their insurance companies.