Graham Fire & Rescue Thanks Citizens for Improved Fire Protection Rating

Home and business owners could see a reduction in fire insurance premiums, effective July 1, 2020.

GRAHAM, WA – The Washington Surveying and Rating Bureau (WSRB), the State’s leading property-insurance rating organization, notified Graham Fire & Rescue Fire Chief Pat Dale that its insurance rating had improved from a Protection Class 4 to a Class 3 rating.

WSRB evaluates the effort a community has made to provide fire protection/suppression services to citizens and property owners. Ratings range from class 1 to 10, with class 1 representing superior property fire protection, and is determined based on four major factors:

  • Fire Department, including fire stations, apparatus, equipment, personnel and training.
  • Water Supply: the capacity, distribution and maintenance of water systems and fire hydrants.
  • Emergency Communications: the emergency communication system used to dispatch the fire department.
  • Fire Safety Control: the fire code enforcement and fire safety education activities in the community.

Insurance companies will use Protection Classes to establish fair premiums for fire insurance – offering economic benefits for communities that choose to invest in their fire protection services.

Now rated as a Protection Class 3, Graham Fire & Rescue falls in the top 10% of fire departments when it comes to property fire protection.

“There are 647 fire departments rated in the State of Washington, only 49 of those fire departments have a Protection Class 3 rating, and 13 have a Class 2 rating” said Fire Chief Dale. “We have worked relentlessly to achieve this lower rating and continue to strive to improve upon the services we provide to our community.”

Graham Fire & Rescue credits the citizens for helping them achieve the new rating. In 2018, they passed a Maintenance and Operations (M&O) levy which allowed them to hire 18 firefighters, purchase a new water tender and train 14 new volunteer firefighters.

“The addition of career and volunteer firefighters moves us closer to nationally recognized staffing levels, which in turn has increased the level of service that we can provide,” Dale added. WSRB views both career and volunteer firefighters equally, so having local residents who are willing to donate their time to the fire department makes a huge difference.

For those interested in becoming volunteer firefighter, Graham Fire & Rescue offers a resident volunteer program and a respond-from-home volunteer program. To learn more about their volunteer opportunities visit https://grahamfire.org/volunteering/.

Graham Fire & Rescue will receive its new water tender later this year. The additional tender will allow them to provide better fire suppression services to the 4,700 addresses in its District that do not have access to hydrants. This purchase benefits the citizens by saving those without access to hydrants an average of 10% a year in insurance premiums.

“The population of our District has grown by 6% in the past two years,” Dale said. “We are grateful to serve a community that chooses to invest in us so we can continue to support our growing population with exceptional fire protection and emergency medical services.”

The new class 3 rating applies to dwellings and commercial properties located within five miles of a fire station and have adequate fire hydrants and water supply. WSRB recommends home and business owners contact their insurance company to determine the impact of the change on their insurance premiums. Impacts may vary by insurer.

Like many fire departments, Graham Fire & Rescue’s daily operations are funded through two property tax levies – one for fire suppression and the other for emergency medical services (EMS). These levies collect a specified amount per $1,000 of assessed property value, however, Graham Fire & Rescue is in the process of evaluating alternate funding methods that could be more sustainable for the fire department and its growing community.

Click here to view Graham Fire & Rescue’s WSRB report.