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Class 1 rating indicates superior property fire protection

image of City and County firefightersAt the next regular meeting of the St. Augustine City Commission, Fire Chief Carlos Aviles will announce the accomplishment of a long term goal of the department.

Periodically, the Insurance Services Office (ISO), a near universally recognized authority on risk management, audits fire departments and issues each one a Public Protection Classification (PPC) stated in a range of 1 to 10.  A Class 1 rating, the highest, indicates that “superior property fire protection” has been proven, and a Class 10 rating indicates that the minimum criteria set by the ISO has not been met.

Chief Aviles will announce that the St. Augustine Fire Department (SAFD) now has the designation of Class 1.

What is it?

“The audit required the compiling of an enormous amount of data and of every aspect of the department’s work,” said Chief Aviles. “In the end, all that information that showed what we do and how we serve the community met the highest standards set by the ISO and earned the department top PPC classification.”

Of the more than 45,000 fire departments evaluated by ISO, only 329 are Class 1. That places the SAFD in the top .8%. Fire departments are audited every five years.

Aviles is quick to credit the 34 members of the SAFD and the department’s close relationship with St. Johns County Fire Rescue and the staff at the telecommunications center. “Both the city and the county share an unwavering commitment to assist each other as we work together to enhance public safety for all of our residents and businesses,” Aviles said.

“And we could not do our work without the support of departments of city government on which we depend,” he added. “The Public Works Department’s constant commitment to upgrading infrastructure helped us score well in water capacity and distribution, and Fleet Maintenance does an amazing job of keeping our equipment in ready-to-use condition which helps with response times.”

What does it mean?

“There is no better example of each area of city operations supporting the work of the others,” said City Manager John Regan, adding “This is truly an organizational achievement and every city employee should feel pride and a great sense of accomplishment in the team’s success.”

Regan went on to describe what this Class 1 rating means to the community.

“The ISO rating is used in residential and commercial property premium calculations. The better the ISO rating, the lower the insurance premiums. This Class 1 rating means our city’s fire department meets the highest level of performance standards to mitigate property damage and save human lives in catastrophic emergencies, and we are all the beneficiaries,” said Regan.

The attainment of the Class 1 rating has been a goal of the SAFD for some time. In 2002 the classification was raised from a 4 to a 3, then in 2013 it went from 3 to 2.

How did we get it?

ISO's expert staff collects information about municipal fire protection efforts in communities and analyzes the relevant data and assigns a PPC number representing the area's fire suppression capabilities. According to the ISO, a community’s PPC depends on:

  • Emergency communications systems, including facilities for the public to report fires, staffing, training, certification of telecommunicators and facilities for dispatching fire departments;
  • The fire department, including equipment, staffing, training and geographic deployment of fire companies;
  • The water supply system, including the inspection and flow testing of hydrants and a careful evaluation of the amount of available water, compared with the amount needed to suppress fires; and
  • Community efforts to reduce the risk of fire, including fire prevention codes and enforcement, public fire safety education and fire investigation programs.

In October, a representative from the ISO will meet with SAFD and other city staff to review the audit and offer more details on its findings.

The presentation before the City Commission will be at its regular meeting on Monday, September 10 starting at 5:00pm in The Alcazar Room, City Hall, 75 King St. The meeting will be broadcast live on GTV/Comcast channel 3, and streamed live at where it is available for on-demand viewing the day following the meeting.