ISO fire ratings, also called the Public Protection Classification (PPC) program, measure a community's fire preparedness in case of emergency, which can affect your home insurance rate.

Many insurance providers take ISO's fire rating into account when determining your home insurance premium. Here's everything you need to know about how your home insurance rate could be affected by your community's ISO score.

In this article

What is an ISO fire rating?

Insurance Services Office (ISO) is a risk advisory company owned by Verisk Analytics that rates communities based on their fire preparedness. It isn't related to your home, but rather the community you live in and your local fire department.

It is not possible to look up your community or fire department ISO rating, as the information is mainly reserved for fire departments and insurance companies. However, your local fire department can request detailed information about its ISO rating through the ISO National Processing Center.

How is an ISO fire rating determined?

ISO assigns its rating using the Fire Suppression Rating Schedule (FSRS), which sorts communities into Classes 1 through 10, with Class 1 being the best and Class 10 being the worst. To achieve an ISO fire rating of Class 1, your community has to score 90 or higher on the FSRS. The FSRS awards a maximum of 105.5 points based on your community's fire department, water supply, emergency communications and risk reduction.

Category Points Description

Fire department


Nearly half of the ISO rating comes from the health of your local fire department. ISO evaluates fire departments based on their equipment, personnel and training.

Water supply


The water supply category relates to your community's water system and the potential need in your community. ISO calculates the Needed Fire Flow, which is the amount of water that a community should be prepared to use at one time. Then it compares the Needed Fire Flow with the actual capabilities of the system in place.

Emergency communications


More points are awarded for emergency response systems that support computer-aided dispatch, for example. It also considers the number of telecommunicators and how the dispatch center notifies firefighters about the location of an emergency.

Community risk reduction


The last 5.5 points are awarded to communities that are actively trying to improve their fire preparedness through prevention. This includes fire safety education and fire investigations.

Source: Verisk's Community Hazard Mitigation Services

Fire preparedness by state

Image of fire at neighborhood home with fire department

ISO ratings measure how well prepared a community is to fight fires and wildfires. Nationally, only 57% of communities are rated class five or better. In states more susceptible to wildfire, preparedness levels tend to be higher, but some wildfire-prones states are still significantly below the national ISO rating average.

California, Arizona and Colorado are the most wildfire prepared states and have ISO ratings well above the national average. Oklahoma, New Mexico and Montana are all wildfire-prone states but ISO levels in these states are below the national average in nearly every category.

Wildfire Preparedness by State
State % of communities ISO Class 1 % of communities ISO Class 3 or better % of communities ISO Class 5 or better % of communities ISO Class 6 or higher
California 5% 48% 84% 16%
Arizona 4% 32% 71% 29%
Colorado 2% 32% 70% 30%
Oregon 0% 26% 76% 24%
Nevada 5% 26% 61% 39%
Utah 1% 13% 74% 26%
Wyoming 3% 11% 62% 38%
Texas 3% 24% 57% 43%
Oklahoma 1% 13% 55% 45%
New Mexico 1% 8% 51% 49%
Montana 0% 4% 40% 60%
National Average 1% 16% 57% 43%
Methodology: ISO ratings are based on a communities local fire department, water supply, emergency communications and risk reduction programs. The lower the class number the more prepared a community is considered to be.

How does an ISO rating affect your home insurance premium?

If your community has a low ISO rating class, such as 1, 2 or 3, this suggests to your insurance provider that your home is at a lower risk for serious fire damage and that your area is well equipped to put out, mitigate and prevent fires. Conversely, a high ISO rating class indicates that your community may not be sufficiently prepared to handle fires. If it takes longer for your local fire department to arrive or put out fires, your insurance premium may increase to reflect the greater risk.

Although insurance companies may use ISO ratings as a factor in setting premiums, ISO as an organization has nothing to do with insurance pricing. Insurers use and weigh ISO's ratings differently, and some don't use ISO ratings at all, instead opting for their own rating system. Especially if your area has a poor ISO rating, you should compare insurance companies before settling on a carrier.

What happens if your community's ISO fire rating is high?

The vast majority of homeowners insurance policies cover damage due to fire, although it is sometimes excluded in high-risk areas. If your insurer considers your community's ISO fire rating to be too high, they may deny you fire coverage.

If you're denied fire coverage, you can shop around for other homeowners insurance companies.

How your community can improve its ISO rating

Your community can better its ISO fire rating by improving in each of the categories ISO grades. ISO actively works with communities that are trying to improve their rating and can reevaluate them on request.

Your community can increase its fire department category score by improving training and equipment. If your community is looking to improve its emergency communications score, it can improve telecommunicators' training or certifications.

Communities can improve in the risk reduction category by enforcing and adopting prevention codes, increasing public fire safety education and following up with investigations for a fire.

If you want to improve your community's ISO fire rating, your best bet is to work directly with ISO. Your local fire department can contact ISO to identify room for improvement in your community's ISO rating.

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