City’s ISO rate improves

Published 8:25 am Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The city of Atmore received some good news recently, as the city’s Insurance Services Office (ISO) rating fell from a 5/9 to a 4/4, according to Atmore Fire Chief Gerry McGhee.

The ISO rating is determined approximately every five years. The ISO investigates a fire district’s water availability, staffing, call time response, training, equipment, station locations and several other factors, in order to determine the district’s “Public Protection Classification” rating.

In Atmore’s case, the “4/4” is a split rating. The first “4” is the rating for properties located within five miles of a fire station and 1,000 feet of a hydrant; the second “4” applies to properties within five miles of a station but beyond 1,000 feet of a hydrant.

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Smaller numbers mean better ratings. The maximum possible score is 1, which is extremely rare.

“This could help some of our citizens and businesses with their insurance rates,” McGhee said.

ISO ratings can affect citizens’ insurance rates, although the changes vary based on the insurance company and other factors. As an example, a $150,000 home in a 10 ISO rating location could have an average annual insurance premium of approximately $1,300. That same home in Atmore’s 4 ISO rating district could have an annual premium as low as $500.

McGhee said that Atmore was last inspected in 2007, when the ISO increased the city’s rating from a 4 to a 5. McGhee said that the Atmore Fire Department and other city employees implemented steps to improve the city’s next rating, including more water accessibility, better training for AFD staff, and improved equipment such as a ladder truck.

In April of this year, ISO personnel returned to visit Atmore again, and dropped the city’s 5/9 rating to its current 4/4.

“We’re back to where we used to be,” McGhee said. “This is good news for us.”

McGhee said that ISO representatives conducted a thorough investigation during their visit. They watched AFD training, and tested the pump trucks, hoses and fire hydrants.

The ISO also talked with the fire department and Atmore Police Department, to determine the volume of calls and how quickly responses were made. Also, ISO personnel checked the water pressure in several local businesses.

“They wanted to make sure that the hydrants and pumps were putting out the pressure that they are supposed to,” McGhee said.

Atmore Mayor Jim Staff said he was thrilled to learn the news, as well.

“This is a great thing for our citizens,” he said. “A lot of people worked hard to help us get our rating back down.”

For more information on the ISO and its rating system, visit online at