Austin gains highest fire protection rating possible

FILE - Austin firefighters (KXAN File Photo/Daniel Guerrero)
FILE - Austin firefighters (KXAN File Photo/Daniel Guerrero)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The city of Austin is now among the most well-protected cities from fire in the country.

Thursday, the city announced Austin’s Insurance Services Office (ISO) rating climbed from Class 2 to Class 1 on the 10-point scale. The Austin Fire Department worked with Austin Water for the “arduous and lengthy” re-classification process, which began in October 2015.

Only 204 cities in the country have the superior rating, and only two other metropolitan cities in Texas have a Class 1 rating: Houston and El Paso. Mayor Steve Adler proclaimed Dec. 1 as “Superior Fire Protection Day” in honor of the new rating.

ISO ratings directly affect a city’s residential and commercial insurance rates. Communities with a Class 1 rating usually enjoy the lowest property insurance, according to the fire department. Texas already has the third highest rates for homeowners’ insurance in the United States, behind Louisiana and Florida.

While cities typically have to hire outside consultants to get the process started, Austin already had the experts on staff, enabling the city to have the process done at no additional expense to taxpayers.

An ISO survey looks at things like hydrant distribution and inspection, the emergency communications center and fire department staffing and response.