A company called ISO (Insurance Services Office) creates ratings for fire departments and surrounding communities. The ratings calculate how well-equipped a fire department is to put out fires in that community. ISO provides this score, often called the “ISO fire score,” to homeowners’ insurance companies.   Like golf, the lower the number, the better. The insurers then use it to help set homeowners insurance rates. The more well-equipped your fire department is to put out a fire, the less likely your house is to burn down. And that makes your home less risky, and therefore less expensive, to insure.

An ISO fire insurance rating, also referred to as a fire score or Public Protection Classification (PPC), is a score from 1 to 10 that indicates how well-protected your community is by the fire department. In the ISO rating scale, a lower number is better: 1 is the best possible rating, while a 10 means the fire department did not meet the ISO’s minimum requirements.

According to the ISO’s Fire Suppression Rating Schedule (FSRS), there are four main criteria to a fire rating score:

  • 50% comes from the quality of your local fire department including staffing levels, training and proximity of the firehouse.
  • 40% comes from availability of water supply, including the prevalence of fire hydrants and how much water is available for putting out fires.
  • 10% comes from the quality of the area’s emergency communications systems (911).
  • An extra 5.5% comes from community outreach, including fire prevention and safety courses.
  • Any area more than 5 driving miles from the nearest firehouse is automatically rated a 10.

Corolla Fire & Rescue’s ISO rating improved to a 3 from a 5 after the 2023 ISO Inspection.  This is a tremendous achievement reflecting dedicated efforts over the last 5 years which improved virtually all areas evaluated by the Insurance Services Office.  There are over 1,500 fire departments in North Carolina, but only 133 have a Class 3 rating or better.  In 2018, Corolla Fire & Rescue improved it’s ISO rating from 6 to 5, saving homeowners hundreds of dollars in property insurance premiums annually.  The increase to a 3 will primarily benefit commercial establishments, but nonetheless is a testament to enhanced fire suppression capability.  Due to rapid response, a number of recent structure fires have been put out well before they turned into full blown conflagrations, with relatively minimal damage to the homes.

Corolla Fire & Rescue also has auto-aid agreements with various neighboring fire departments, including Carova VFD, Southern Shores Fire Department, Duck Fire Department and Kitty Hawk Fire Department.  These are contractual agreements among fire departments to provide resource assistance across jurisdictional boundaries.  In auto-aid, the dispatch is automatic in the case of a structure fire.  This assistance is availed of due to an emergency that exceeds local resources, typically a multiple-alarm structure fire.

Additionally, Corolla Fire & Rescue is part of the Currituck County Tanker Task Force. Due to the paucity of fire hydrants on Currituck Mainland, tankers are a key element of water supply for fighting fires. Corolla Fire & Rescue responds for tanker requests for structure fires from the southern end of the county to Barco.