GRFD is first in state to achieve Insurance Services Office 1 rating

Published on December 10, 2018

Chief Lehman speaking at a 12/10/18 ISO 1 Rating News Conference

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Grand Rapids Fire Department (GRFD) is the first fire agency in the state to receive the Insurance Services Office (ISO) Class 1 rating. The rating was announced during a news conference this afternoon that included Fire Chief John Lehman, City Manager Mark Washington, Mayor Rosalynn Bliss, city commissioners and state Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer. 

The Class 1 rating is the ISO’s highest and is the result of GRFD’s overall efficiency in execution and response of emergency service. The rating has been achieved by less than 1 percent of fire departments nationwide.

“This rating reflects the hard work and dedication of our fire department, water department and emergency communications center in providing high-quality services to our citizens,” Chief Lehman said. 

“We appreciate that we have attained this rating, recognizing it was hard work to get here. It is our mission to maintain this high standard and continue to provide world-class fire service in an ever-growing community.”

The ISO evaluates more than 50,000 fire departments nationwide, with only 330 earning the Class 1 rating. Among the 259 accredited fire agencies worldwide, only 71 hold a Class 1 rating.

Fire departments nationwide are rated by the ISO to determine a public protection classification for individual cities or counties. The rating – based on a 1 to 10 scale with 1 being the best – is used by insurance companies to determine insurance rates. Most U.S. insurers of homes and business property use the classification in calculating premiums. In general, the price of fire insurance in a community with a good classification is substantially lower than in a community with a poor classification.

“I am proud of our fire department for achieving this rating,” Washington said. “Better insurance rates make Grand Rapids more attractive for residents and businesses and they move us forward as a city of the future.”

The ISO evaluates a fire department’s capabilities using a system called the Fire Suppression Rating Schedule, which employs nationally accepted standards developed by such organizations as the National Fire Protection Association, American Water Works Association and Association of Public Safety Communications Officials International. The system considers three primary areas of a community’s fire suppression capabilities: emergency communications – 911 Call Center – the fire department and the water supply system. In addition, it includes a community risk reduction section that recognizes community efforts to reduce losses through fire prevention, public fire safety education and fire investigation.

Key elements considered when evaluating a fire department include response capabilities. These are adequate staffing of fire service personnel on engine crews and ladder companies, fire station distribution – location and coverage – appropriate apparatus and equipment, training, water supplies, organizational structure, communications and building/fire prevention codes and their enforcement.

“Our fire department’s Class 1 rating is a reflection of the City’s commitment to provide quality public safety services to those who live, work and play in Grand Rapids,” Mayor Bliss said.