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Insurance Services Office Inc. Ratings
Insurance Services Office, Inc. (ISO) has completed the first countywide survey of Loudoun County’s fire suppression services and has assigned new classifications, effective November 1, 2013, which could reduce residential and commercial property insurance rates, provided that properties are within five miles of a fire station. 

ISO’s Public Protection Classification Program plays an important role in the underwriting process at insurance companies. While use of the program is voluntary, most insurers in the United States use the information as part of their decision-making process when evaluating risk, coverage levels and pricing for personal or commercial property insurance. 

Frequently Asked Questions
Q.  What is the Insurance Services Office (ISO) and what do they do?
A.  The Insurance Services Office Inc. (ISO) is a private firm that specializes in providing data, underwriting and risk management services to property insurance companies. ISO collects information on municipal fire protection efforts throughout the United States and provides the data to insurance companies to assist them in the voluntary establishment of property insurance rates.  By classifying communities’ abilities to suppress fires, ISO is able to also help communities evaluate their public fire protection services through its Public Property Classification (PPC) program. The program provides an objective standard that helps localities in planning and budgeting for facilities, equipment, and training. And by securing lower fire insurance premiums for communities with better public protection, the PPC program provides incentives and rewards for communities that choose to improve their firefighting services.

Q.  How does the Public Property Classification (PPC) rating work?
A.  The PPC is derived from the field analysis and other information supplied in relation to a community’s fire suppression delivery system.  The ISO analysis concentrates on three primary areas:  the fire department (equipment, staffing, training), emergency communications, and water supply.  ISO analyzes relevant data using their Fire Suppression Rating Schedule (FSRS).   Based upon the data, ISO assigns a Public Protection Classification from 1 to 10 (Class 1 generally represents superior property fire protection, and Class 10 indicates that the area's fire-suppression program doesn't meet ISO’s minimum criteria). 

Q.  What has recently changed with respect to ISO classifications within Loudoun County?
A.  In the past, Loudoun County’s ISO ratings were for each volunteer fire departments first due area.  As communities have grown, the PPC ratings had not kept up with the pace of improvements to firefighting infrastructure.  In 2011, the Department of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Management requested that ISO consider a countywide rating in consideration of the many improvements made to water supply systems, to include a significant investment of tanker fire apparatus, fire department training requirements and staffing of stations.  ISO agreed to this study and as a result, issued new PPC ratings to the county. Loudoun’s rural classification is 5/10 and the suburban classification is 3/10.  The following chart shows the range of previous ratings and the new rating as reported to the insurance industry on November 1, 2013.

Public Protection Class (PPC) Ratings

Classification Area



Urban (Hydrant)

4 to 7


Rural (Non-Hydrant)

8 to 9


No Fire Station Within 5 Mile Drive



Q.  Do these new ratings mean that I will see a reduction in my property insurance premium?
A.  The use of ISO ratings is voluntary on the part of insurance carriers.  The establishment of premium rates by insurance carriers is dependent upon many other factors in addition to the PPC ratings. The public is encouraged to contact their insurance carrier to discuss how the new PPC ratings will impact their insurance premium rates. 

Q. How do I determine the Public Protection Classification for my property?
A. If you have a question about your Public Protection Classification, please contact your insurance company or your agent directly, rather than ISO.  ISO does not supply Public Protection Classifications to policyholders or the general public. ISO will supply Public Protection Classifications to insurance companies and agents. Also, participating insurance companies and agents can access the classifications through ISOnet. Insurance companies and agents who would like sign up for the service may call the ISO Customer Service Center at 1-800-888-4476.

Q.  How does ISO plan to keep up with future improvements to the county’s fire suppression infrastructure?
A.  ISO normally visits a community once every 10 years.  However, the recent study has led ISO to understand that new community development, to include improved water supplies, new fire stations and upgraded equipment, produces a need for a more regular review to ensure that the data they provide to the insurance industry is as accurate as possible.  The Department of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Management will be working with ISO to request a more frequent schedule of review based upon changes in these areas.                                                                

Q.  I see signs for “Dry Hydrants” in rural areas of Loudoun County.  What are dry hydrants and does their use improve the PPC ratings?
A.  A dry hydrant is a non-pressurized pipe with a fire department connection installed at a pond, stream or underground water storage tank.  Dry hydrants provide firefighters quick access to water in rural areas because the piping and connection are already in place, saving precious time during a fire when the need to replenish firefighting water supplies is critical.

Dry hydrants are required to be installed as a condition of certain development in Loudoun County.  They may also be installed by a homeowner.  In some instances, partial grants are available to help offset the cost of materials.

ISO recognizes the use of dry hydrants in Loudoun County and includes those sites with tank capacities of 30,000 gallons or more in the overall PPC rating. 

Q.  How can I learn more about installing a dry hydrant and the grant program?
A.  The Loudoun County Department of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Management can provide general information about the benefits and review procedures for installing dry hydrants.  The Virginia Department of Forestry is one popular source for potential grant funding.  

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