The Washington Surveying and Rating Bureau (WSRB) is an independent, not-for-profit, public service organization serving the Property and Casualty insurers and citizens of Washington.
WSRB evaluates all Washington communities for their fire protection/suppression capabilities. Using a schedule approved by the state Office of Insurance Commissioner, WSRB assigns each community a Protection Class grade of 1 through 10, where 1 indicates exemplary fire protection capabilities, and 10 indicates the capabilities, if any, are insufficient for insurance credit.
It is sometimes thought that a Class 4 community has a "better" fire department than a Class 5 community, but that is not what the classifications mean. In fact, the fire department itself makes up only 40% of WSRB's evaluation. Another 35% of the evaluation focuses on the public or private water supplies available to fight fires with. Other factors include the capabilities of the 911 emergency communications/dispatch center (9%) and community fire prevention activities (16%). More than half of a community's classification is based on capabilities that are not under the direct control of the fire department.
Once WSRB has determined a community's new classification, insurance companies are notified and may begin using the new classification for building in the community. However, when a community is graded Class 5, for example, this does not mean that every home or business is given that classification. Protection Classifications for individual buildings are dependent on how close a building is to a fire hydrant and a fire station and are modified from the classification of the community accordingly.
When a community improves its classification, there is often a corresponding savings in a property owner's insurance premium. However, insurance companies are not required to follow WSRB's recommendations, and WSRB does not supervise or set insurance premiums. Anyone who wants to know how a change or potential change in their community's classification could affect their premiums should contact their insurance agent.
WSRB works closely with the fire chiefs of Washington State to insure that the classification process is fair, equitable, and representative of the actual conditions and challenges they face. For over 100 years, WSRB has been a leader in encouraging effective improvements in firefighting capabilities and helping communities save lives and property.
For more information, contact Robert Ferrell, 509.487.3899 ext. 8102
This information is available in pdf format.