Chattanooga Fire Department has earned a top insurance rating, which could mean lower insurance premiums for homeowners and businesses.

Chattanooga home and business owners could see lower insurance premiums now that the Chattanooga Fire Department has been upgraded from a Class 2 to a Class 1 Public Protection Classification.

Class 1 rating is the highest rating given by the Insurance Services Office (ISO), which rates the ability of fire departments across the country to respond to and suppress structure fires.

“Our fire department protects life and property every day in Chattanooga and has gone above and beyond in attaining this classification,” said Mayor Andy Berke. “Congratulations to Fire Chief Phil Hyman and his team for working so diligently to reach this level. It reflects the excellence of the department and the organizations that supported them in this goal.”

Chattanooga joins three other cities in Tennessee to achieve the Class 1 designation, and is the first of the four largest cities in the state to earn that distinction, according to a news release.

The upgraded ISO classification may mean lower insurance premiums for local homeowners, but more significant benefits will be seen by commercial property owners. “This classification not only benefits business owners in Chattanooga who may see a decrease in their premiums, but it is also a great recruiting tool to attract new companies, which contribute to the local economy,” said Berke.

The ISO uses four main criteria in determining a fire department’s classification:

  • Emergency Communications –(the 911 system)
  • Fire Department – (including equipment, staffing, training, geographic distribution of fire companies)
  • Water Supply – (including the number and location of hydrants, as well as the inspection and flow testing of hydrants, which is done twice a year in Chattanooga)
  • Community Risk Reduction – (including code inspections, fire investigations and public education activities)

Chief Hyman also attributed the achievement to other agencies that work closely with the fire department.  “Hamilton County 911 and the three water utility districts we work with all scored high with this ISO evaluation,” said Hyman. “Without their excellent service, we would not be a Class 1 department.”

The other Class 1 ISO fire departments in Tennessee are Franklin, Columbia and Johnson City. 

The new ISO classification for Chattanooga goes into effect January 1, 2018. Less than 300 fire departments in the country have a Class 1 rating, placing the Chattanooga Fire Department in the top half percent of all departments nationwide (0.5%).

ISO is an independent company that serves insurance companies, communities, fire departments, insurance regulators, and others by providing information about risk. ISO’s staff collects information about municipal fire suppression efforts in communities throughout the United States. In each of these communities, ISO analyzes the relevant data and assigns a Public Protection Classification 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.