City of Yuma's fire suppression insurance rating among nation's best

Yuma, Arizona - A leading insurance industry analyst is upgrading its rating for Yuma’s fire suppression delivery system, the City has learned.

The resulting change, effective June 1, means Yuma is among the top dozen or so communities in Arizona who are all rated as class 2 and one of about 700 nationwide with a Public Protection Classification (PPC) of 2 or higher. The rating is issued by ISO Properties Inc., which supplies data and analytics for the property and casualty insurance industry.

The classification upgrade follows a survey and analysis conducted by Insurance Service Organization (ISO) of the City’s structural fire suppression delivery system earlier this year.

A high PPC rating from ISO is desirable for cities as it can and often does result in lower prices for personal or commercial property insurance. More importantly, it is another measurement of how prompt and effective the City’s fire suppression services are – not only by firefighters by also the water utility, dispatch, and information technology systems that support them.

“I am proud of the department and grateful for the support of the public, the Mayor, the Council and City Administration,” said Yuma Fire Department Chief Jack McArthur. “Our firefighters improved our score by increasing training hours. Our mechanics maintained our equipment consistent with ISO standards. Our administrative staff kept the records needed to prove our compliance with ISO standards. And our dispatchers achieved a perfect score on our ability to send and receive alarms.”

Of course, firefighters need water to put out blazes – and that’s where the City’s Utilities department factors into ISO’s rating system.

“We do all we can to maintain the water distribution system to make sure the water’s there when YFD needs to fight a fire,” said Jay Simonton, Director of Utilities for the City of Yuma. “We go above and beyond what’s merely required to make sure the water’s there when they need it most.”

That “above and beyond” includes consistent maintenance programs for booster pumps, hydrants, storage tanks and treatment plants and quick response times whenever a there’s a leak in a water main, Simonton said. Pumps and storage facilities have been upgraded as well.

“This analysis and better rating means that we are providing the best fire service in Arizona, bar none,” said City Administrator Greg Wilkinson. “All the hard work pays off to make sure that YFD is positioned to get there quickly to save lives; second, to save property and limit damage; and third, to save homeowners and business owners some money on their fire insurance.

“In all the areas of the City, our employees have done a great job in providing the support and services needed to protect our customers,” he continued. “YFD over the last year has concentrated on additional training. It’s hard to bring in a class 2 rating – all involved deserve a lot of credit.”

ISO’s PPC scale runs from 1 to 10, with one being the best. According to 2011 ISO statistics, only 61 areas out of 47,242 across the nation achieved a class 1 rating, and only 653 were graded at class 2. Previously, Yuma was rated at a class 3, which then placed it among the top 12 percent of Arizona communities.

According to ISO, most U.S. insurers use PPC ratings for underwriting and calculating premiums for residential, commercial and industrial properties. They use PPC information when deciding what business to write, which types of coverage to offer or what to charge for property insurance prices.

Insurance companies independently determine the premiums they charge policyholders. As a company’s rates can depend on other factors, such as the company’s own experience with fire-loss claims, the improved PPC is not a sure sign that rates will fall.