Charleston Fire Department earns top rating

The Charleston Fire Department earned the top rating from the Insurance Service Office.

The Charleston Fire Department has regained the top rating from the Insurance Service Office, which it lost after the Sofa Super Store fire.

Charleston Mayor Joe Riley, Fire Chief Karen Brack and other fire department officials announced at a news conference at City Hall on Friday that the fire department had earned an ISO rating of 1-1X-10. That means that most of the city has a rating of 1, the top rating on a scale of 1 to 10, Brack said.

The second number, the 1X, means that while fire hydrants throughout most of the city are about 500 feet apart, in some more remote places, they are 1,000 feet apart. And the final number, the 10 is for the Cainhoy area, which doesn’t have a fire station.

The department previously was rated 3.

The Charleston Fire Department had an ISO rating of 1 from 1997 to 2009. Fire trucks displayed the Class 1 designation and firefighters wore ISO 1 patches on their sleeves. But after the Sofa Super Store fire on Savannah Highway that killed nine firefighters in June 2007, the ISO reevaluated the department. The rating was dropped from Class 1 to Class 3 in May 2009.

Brack said people should call their insurance companies and ask if the new rating will reduce the cost of their insurance premiums.

Riley said premium rates likely will be reduced for companies that deal with flammable materials.

Brack said that about two years ago, she asked the ISO to review the department’s rating. The group looked first at how the department fights fires, an evaluation that included the quality of the city’s fire facilities and access to water sources. It also reviewed fire prevention efforts and communication. The city received a perfect score on the communication portion due to the efforts of Charleston County’s Consolidated Dispatch system, Brack said.

Riley said many people worked hard over the past few year to increase the rating. “This is a mission accomplished.”

Reach Diane Knich at 937-5491 or on Twitter at @dianeknich.