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Fire Department Requirements and Local Fire Codes

Insurance Service Office (ISO)

A company called ISO (Insurance Services Office) creates ratings for fire departments and their surrounding communities. These ratings are calculated based on four main criteria to determine how well-equipped fire departments are to protect the community. ISO provides this score, often called the “ISO fire rating,” to homeowners insurance companies. An ISO fire rating is a score from 1 to 10 that indicates how well-protected your community is by the fire department. In the ISO rating scale, a lower number is better: 1 is the best possible rating, while a 10 means the fire department did not meet ISO’s minimum requirements. Insurers then use it to help set homeowners insurance rates. The better equipped your fire department is protect the community, makes your home less risky, and therefore less expensive, to insure.

According to ISO’s Fire Suppression Rating Schedule (FSRS), four main criteria comprise a fire rating score:

  • 50% comes from the quality of your local fire department, including staffing levels, training and proximity of the firehouse.
  • 40% comes from availability of water supply, including the prevalence of fire hydrants and how much water is available to put out fires.
  • 10% comes from the quality of the area’s emergency communications systems (911).
  • An extra 5.5% comes from community outreach, including fire prevention and safety courses.
  • Any area that is more than five driving miles from the nearest fire station is automatically rated a 10.
How often does ISO evaluate?

In conjunction with the ISO new schedule, they have updated the frequency of their evaluations. It is their intent to grade every fire protection district in the United States on a 4-5 year timeframe.

What is my homes's ISO fire rating?

Chatham Emergency Services is a ISO Class 2 department.


For all Chatham County Codes:

For Building Construction Codes:

For Health, Safety, and Sanitation Codes:

Still Want to Learn More?

More information on the Public Protection Classification Program or ISO and its impact on your property is available directly from ISO’s Website. Follow the link below for full resources and a full breakdown of the rating system..