The Insurance Services Office (ISO), and organization that rates communities on fire protection effectiveness, officially announced the City of Greenville’s receipt of a Public Protection Classification of 1.  The announcement was made at the August 28 City Council meeting.

ISO evaluates municipal fire protection efforts in communities throughout the United States through its Public Protection Classification (PPC) program and assigns a PPC from 1 to 10. Class 1 is the highest rating and represents superior property fire protection. Consequently, fire insurance premiums for communities with better public protection are significantly lower than those areas served by departments with higher ratings. According to ISO data, out of an estimated 46,042 fire protection areas in the United States, only 241 are currently classified as Class 1. There are 21 Class 1 departments in South Carolina, including Spartanburg, Columbia, Charleston, and Myrtle Beach.

According to Fire Chief Steve Kovalcik, the Greenville City Fire Department has worked diligently over the past few decades to improve its response capabilities through ISO classification. “This prestigious designation as a Class 1 department marks the culmination of that hard work, as well as the beginning of a process of excellence,” said Kovalcik. “In addition to being proud of this accomplishment, we’re also extremely gratified that our citizens can be assured that they’re receiving the highest quality protection and that home and business owners may also see a decrease in the cost of their fire insurance.”

According to the ISO, a community’s PPC depends on:

  • Emergency communications systems, including facilities for the public to report fires, staffing, training, certification of telecommunicators and facilities for dispatching fire departments
  • The fire department, including equipment, staffing, training and geographic deployment of fire companies
  • The water supply system, including the inspection and flow testing of hydrants and a careful evaluation of the amount of available water, compared with the amount needed to suppress fires
  • Community efforts to reduce the risk of fire, including fire prevention codes and enforcement, public fire safety education and fire investigation programs

The Greenville City Fire Department (GCFD) has had a Class 2 ISO rating for more than 15 years, and Chief Kovalcik attributes the change to a number of key initiatives, including the location and construction of the new fire station in the Verdae area; the creation of an additional engine company with additional firefighters; the addition of several new positions, including a Community Risk Reduction Coordinator; and GCFD’s cooperation with other agencies in Greenville County.

“On this special day, I want to take the opportunity to recognize and thank the men and women of the Greenville City Fire Department, and to express my appreciation to our elected officials, the city manager, our City leadership team and all the other City departments for their support and commitment to the sustainment of our fire prevention services and fire suppression resources,” said Kovalcik. “While we’ve become accustomed to being on national ‘best of’ lists here in Greenville, joining the ranks of the Class 1 fire departments in the U.S. is something we should all be proud of.”