Fire service improvements mean lower risk rating for western Placer County, possible insurance discounts for residents

Published on June 07, 2018

Placer County Fire Department service improvements are paying off with a reduced risk rating for areas served by the department – and maybe reduced insurance premiums for homeowners.

Four years ago, the Placer County Fire Department received a rating of 6 out of 10 from the Insurance Service Office, with 10 being the worst rating. Today, Placer County has improved to 4 and may be revised to a 3 within six months due to additional improvements.

Placer County Fire is the fire department for 475 square miles of unincorporated western Placer County - nearly a third of the county and home to nearly 52,000 residents. Placer County contracts with CAL FIRE to provide fire and emergency services for this area. Fire service elsewhere in Placer County is provided by 17 independent fire districts.

The Insurance Service Office is a for-profit organization that provides statistical information on risk. Every four years ISO evaluates the risk of fire danger in an
area and calculates a rating on a scale of one to 10.

ISO looks at nearly every aspect of a fire department. Personnel, equipment, water supply, training, dispatch services, inspections, prevention and other factors are considered.
Since the last rating four years ago much has improved. CAL FIRE/Placer County Fire Department has maintained their high level of service while implementing the ISO’s recommendations. The dispatch center has new enhancements. The prevention bureau has improved staffing and equipment upgrades have been made.

One major change has been to improve the water delivery system in outlying areas.

CAL FIRE/Placer County Fire proved the required gallons–per-minute delivery standard could be accomplished through a robust volunteer group, a rigorous training program and quality equipment to deliver the water when and where needed over a sustained period.

“I am very proud of the men and women of Placer County Fire Department/CAL FIRE,” said CAL FIRE/Placer County Fire Chief George Morris. “I view this improved rating as an affirmation of their dedicated professional service to the people of Placer County.”

For homeowners in unincorporated Placer County this improved ISO rating could translate to a cost savings on fire insurance. The average premium for a homeowner in Placer County with an ISO rating of 8/10 is $1,600 annually.

Not all insurance carriers use the ISO rating to determine risk, but for those that do, premiums could go down as much as 50 percent with the new rating of 4. However, many other factors - such as deductibles, previous claims and the risk of wildfire in certain areas – also influence the premium rates set by insurers, so premium reductions aren’t guaranteed. Residents served by Placer County Fire are encouraged to contact their insurance provider with questions about how the new rating might affect their premiums.