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Fire insurance rating to be re-evaluated
ISO will evaluate Ceres Fires current ability to fight fires
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Ceres city officials will receive a visit soon that could determine how much residents pay for fire insurance on their dwellings.

The Insurance Services Office (ISO) has told Deputy Fire Chief and Fire Marshal Bryan Nicholes that the visit will evaluate and classify Ceres Fire Department's ability to fight fires. The result of the two- to three-day visit - probably to take place at the end of August - will establish a new Insurance Services Office (ISO) rating that will help insurance companies assess risk and set the cost of fire insurance premiums for those living in Ceres.

The last ISO rating was given in 2004 and set at a number of "3." Ratings are set from a 1 to a 10, with 1 representing superior fire protection and 10 being the worst.

Nicholes does not expect the rating to improve nor be reduced.

"It's hard to go much higher than a 3 without more staffing," said Nicholes.

Half of the ISO's Public Protection Classification (PPC) ratings are dependent upon the department's capabilities, including response times, fire station distribution, pumping capacity, the type of equipment carried and engine companies. Forty percent of the rating is based on water supply, such as size, number and location of hydrants and the frequency of inspections of the water hydrant system. The fire alarm and communications system accounts for about 10 percent of the rating.

"The PPC program recognizes the efforts of communities to provide fire-protection services for citizens and property owners," said Nicholes. "A community's investment in fire mitigation is a proven and reliable predicator of future fire losses. So insurance companies use PPC information to help establish fair premiums for fire insurance - generally offering lower premiums in communities with better protection."

The visit is also not expected to lead to a higher rating for the rural belt around Ceres which falls inside the Ceres Fire Protection District. The city department contracts for service with that agency. Due to limited water and the distances fire engines must travel, the ISO has assigned a rating of a 9.

"This means that the property and business owners within the areas that ISO classified as a 3 are paying less for insurance than those in the area classified as a 9," said Nicholes.