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Fire Department’s new rating could mean lower insurance rates

Firefighters work to extinguish a fire that collapsed a metal building in the 500 block of Valleydale Road in northwest Charlotte on May 13, 2015. Charlotte Fire has received the highest rating possible from the Insurance Services Office.
Firefighters work to extinguish a fire that collapsed a metal building in the 500 block of Valleydale Road in northwest Charlotte on May 13, 2015. Charlotte Fire has received the highest rating possible from the Insurance Services Office. dhinshaw@charlotteobserver.com

Charlotte’s fire department has received the highest rating possible from the Insurance Services Office, a benchmark that means property owners could see lower insurance rates.

The department was rated as a Class 3 fire-protection area in 1972, but hasn’t been rated since. The ISO, which provides the ratings to insurance companies, began a stepped-up effort to classify fire departments in 2013. Departments across the country have seen improved ratings.

Charlotte Fire Chief Jon Hannan made the announcement at Monday’s city council meeting.

Insurance premiums are based in part on the quality of fire protection, which means property owners here can get the lowest premium possible on that area of insurance.

Analysts looked at everything from how far apart fire stations are from each other to how long it takes dispatchers to answer calls. It also evaluated the city’s water supply and fire hydrants, and gave the department extra points for community efforts to reduce fire risk.

“You can externally get validation of whether or not you’re doing it right,” Hannan said of the new rating. “Any firefighter is going to understand it and be extremely proud of it.”

This budget year, the fire department responded to 110,710 calls with an average response time of 4 minutes, 34 seconds.

Cleve R. Wootson Jr.: 704-358-5046, @CleveWootson

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