Five Steps to Reduce Your Community’s ISO Insurance Rates

By USDD Staff

One of the key benefits of having a high-functioning USDD Phoenix G2 Fire Station Alerting System at your community’s disposal is that it’s designed to help improve your public protection classification (PPC), and thus can lower your Insurance Services Office (ISO). Let’s take a look at how you can take advantage of lowered ISO insurance rates in your community.

Standards for ISO Insurance Rates
First, as everyone in this industry ought to be aware, the ISO Rating Service was developed in response to insurers’ requests for a way to automate the complex, labor-intensive, and costly process of managing and maintaining policy rates.

In the emergency response field, ISO helps establish appropriate insurance premiums for residential and commercial properties through its classification program for communities’ fire protection services. These ratings are critically important to fire departments and the communities they serve. Fortunately, there’s a quick path to lowering your community’s ISO insurance rates—and thus your premiums—by setting up a trackable means of monitoring the integrity of your public dispatch system.

Monitoring for integrity involves installing automatic systems that detect faults and failures and send visual and audible indications to appropriate personnel. To receive the credit, you must follow the general criteria of NFPA 1221, Standard for the Installation, Maintenance, and Use of Emergency Communications Systems. The standard defines monitoring for integrity as the “automatic monitoring of circuits and other system components for the existence of defects or faults that interfere with receiving or transmitting an alarm.”

As an initial step in this process, ISO has developed a worksheet to determine your community’s credit for integrity monitoring. ISO works both by scheduling periodic community reviews themselves (in other words, they will contact you), or by responding to requests from the communities to initiate a review process (you contact them). Once contacted, an ISO field rep will work with someone from your dispatch center to complete the worksheet. The rep will review systems diagrams and tech data from the system manufacturer and software provider to help you calculate your credits.

Five Things Needed to Monitor your Dispatch System
To receive credit for monitoring the primary dispatch circuit in your community, you need to have an automated system in place that continuously checks all the circuit’s components, including its power supply.

Following are five important monitoring prerequisites:

  1. Set up your alert. Ensure that your visual and audible (trouble) signals are set up to alert communications center personnel whenever a component fails.
  2. Repeat your audible signal. Set up the audible signal so that it sounds again in the event of an additional fault.
  3. Create a dedicated display. Make sure that the visual signal is on a dedicated display not used for routine dispatching.
  4. Schedule personnel. Make sure to assign appropriate personnel to be on duty, ready to respond when the trouble alarm sounds.
  5. Double up your transmitters. Make certain that you have a functioning spare in place that can take over in the event of a radio circuit failure.

Rapid Response Designed USDD System
At US Digital Designs, we’ve taken great pains to make sure that our Phoenix G2 Fire Station Alerting System has the built-in capability to ensure rapid response through its system. And the criticality of response time cannot be overestimated.

In one recent case in Jacksonville, Florida, it reportedly took 911 and the police one minute, 40 seconds to alert the fire department to a kitchen fire two blocks from the station.

Another example of how valuable—and successful—monitoring can be is how the Woodlands community in Houston, Texas, fared when it received a PPC rating of 1. According to ISO records, there are only 60 out of 47,000 communities nationwide that have achieved this status. Finally, here’s an example of how ISO insurance rates are impacting homeowners in Boone County, Missouri.

What You Can Do
To learn more about this critically important—and potentially money-saving—opportunity, follow this link to ISO. Additionally, if you have a particular question about the USDD Phoenix G2 Fire Station Alerting System, or are seeking guidance on this important topic, visit

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