savings for residents and business owners?

Mt. Lebanon is one of only two Pennsylvania towns to have its fire department claim a Class 1 ISO ranking. This could mean lower insurance rates for residents. Fire Chief Nick Sohyda and his team worked seven years to bring the department’s ranking from Class 3 to Class 1. Below, from left, Deputies Tim Brown, Glenn Wallace, Rodger Ricciuti, Sohyda, Lt. Loren Hughes, volunteer firefighter Krister Nielsen and Lt. Ed Davies.

The Mt. Lebanon Fire Department has achieved the Insurance Service Office’s (ISO) top Public Protection Class (PPC) 1 rating—the highest of 10 categories. The ISO, a trusted source of information for the insurance industry regarding property/casualty insurance risk, has awarded a Class 1 rating to only one other town in Pennsylvania and just 60 across the country. Previously, Mt. Lebanon’s ranking was Class 3.

For Mt. Lebanon residents, this news could result in lower insurance premiums.

The ISO performs services for insurance companies at no cost to municipalities and collects data and provides insurers with important, up-to-date information about fire protection services in more than 47,500 communities across the United States. Most insurers of homes and business properties use ISO ratings in calculating premiums. Generally speaking, if all else is equal, the cost of property insurance in a community with a good PPC rating is lower than in a community with a poor PPC.

Fire Chief Nick Sohyda says residents should contact their insurance carriers to see if the new ranking could improve their insurance rates, adding that every insurance company uses the ISO to a different extent to determine rates and policies. When you call, mention that your fire department’s ISO ranking recently rose from Class 3 to a Class 1 ranking. You also may have to provide information on how close your house is to a fire hydrant and the fire station.“Fire Chief Nick Sohyda and his team did a spectacular job in this effort,” says Mt. Lebanon’s Municipal Manager Steve Feller. “The chief has been on a seven-year crusade to improve the rating, and it paid off. We were hoping to get a Class 2 rating, but this is simply amazing.”

In addition to facilitating lower insurance rates for residents, PPC ratings provide an important benchmark for fire departments and are a valuable tool in planning and budgeting for fire protection.

To get the improved ranking, the department had to submit information about its emergency communications, operations, water supply and community risk reduction section (fire prevention, fire safety education and fire investigation practices). To keep the ranking, the fire department will be re-evaluated in three to five years.

“This is just one more indication to our residents that they live in a very special community with exceptional public safety services,” Feller says.

Photo by Sam Oshlag