UFD classification improves

In January, the Urbana Fire Division, working with the Insurance Services Office (ISO), completed the Public Protection Classification (PPC) survey. The PPC is completed every seven years by fire departments and plays an important role in the underwriting process at insurance companies. Most insurers use the PPC information as part of the decision-making process in insurance coverage of personal and commercial property.

Going into January, the fire division’s classification was a four within the city and a nine for areas covered by the division and outside the city limits. The PPC rating system grades fire departments 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 four main components of the PCC rating system are fire flows, emergency communications, water supply and fire department capabilities. Prior to this year, it was difficult for areas without hydrants to receive below a nine since water supply accounts for 40% of the overall grade.

On April 22, ISO released the results from the survey completed by the division in January. The fire division received a Class 3 rating within the city and a Class 3X rating outside the city. The “X” after the three is a new classification that ISO believes has a better predictive value for insurers in evaluating both commercial and residential property. Urbana Fire Chief Dean Ortlieb said he believes that since both classifications are lower there is a likelihood that commercial and residential properties will have lower insurance premiums in the coming years.

Ortlieb credited Mayor Bill Bean, Director of Administration Kerry Brugger and city council for supporting the fire division and creating a road map to success. He said former Fire Chief Mark Keller and his staff deserve all the credit for putting systems in place and recording the data based off the previous PPC report. He also credited Water Superintendent Joe Sampson and his staff in working with ISO personnel.

“When I came to Urbana, I was impressed with the working relationship with the fire division and water department,” Ortlieb said. “This relationship has directly helped our community in fighting fires and saving lives. It now might also have the benefit of having lower insurance premiums for our community.

“When we started this process in January we broke down each part of the scoring system and made sure we had the data to support it,” he said. “I was pleased when we received the results, but not completely satisfied. I think we can do better. Although the fire division received high scores in five of the nine rating categories, we lost several points in the other categories by not having enough personnel for proper deployment and manning of equipment. If we can increase these numbers it is possible to even go lower in the classification ranking. We are still digesting all the numbers and developing processes within our control to improve on our next score. It is my hope that in time that we might even be able to make some changes to improve on the deployment and manning of equipment.”

May lead to lower insurance premiums

Submitted story

Info from the Urbana Fire Division.

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