MISSISSIPPI STATE RATING BUREAU
To be eligible for fire insurance grading, a community must be either incorporated as a municipality or be a legally defined district with definite legally defined boundaries under administration and authoritative political control of a municipality, county or the state or political subdivision thereof, as provided in (1) Section 21-25-21 and following or (2) Section 19-5-151 and following or (3) Section 19-5-215 and following of Mississippi statutes. A copy of the legal papers providing for a legal district, together with an appropriate map showing definite defined boundaries, shall be on file with the Mississippi State Rating Bureau.
The fire insurance grading classification of a municipality or legal district for fire insurance rating purposes is an intricate engineering procedure made up of many factors, among which are: The fire department, the water supply, emergency communications, the fire prevention code, the public fire safety education programs, and fire investigations. A municipality's or legal district's fire insurance rating classification may range from Tenth Class as the highest fire insurance rating category, to First Class as the lowest fire insurance rating category. At the present time the lowest fire insurance rating category achieved in Mississippi is Third Class.
When a municipality or legal district has been graded for fire insurance rating purposes, and the municipality’s or legal districts' resulting classification is less than Tenth Class, the grading is predicated upon all facilities being maintained in continuous operation inside the limits of the municipality or legal district. For instance, the fire department is considered as being fully and continuously available to fight fires which may occur inside the municipality or legal district. Should the fire department respond to areas outside the municipality's or legal district's limits, whether by contract or by practice, fire defense is weakened proportionately to such outside response. In order to maintain the level of the municipality's or legal district's fire insurance rating classification it then becomes necessary to increase fire department manpower and equipment in direct relationship to the overall response area. Failure to provide the needed manpower and equipment for the entire response area results in the down grading of a municipality's or legal district's fire defense, and the fire insurance rating classification is affected accordingly.
In order to develop a fire insurance rating classification other than a class 10, the municipality or legal district must meet the following minimum facilities and practices:
Organization – The municipality or legal district must have a fire department organized permanently under applicable state or local laws. The organization must include one individual responsible for the operation of the department, usually with the title of “chief.” The fire department must serve an eligible area with definite boundaries. For a municipality or fire district that does not have a fire department operated solely by or for the governing body of
that municipality or fire district, the fire department providing such service must do so under legal contract or resolution. When a fire department’s service area involves more than one municipality or fire district, each of the areas served should have a contract.
Firefighter response – The fire department must demonstrate that at least four (4) firefighters, from the graded department, respond on the initial alarm to all reported structure fires. The fire chief may be included as one of the four (4) responding members.
Training – The fire department must conduct training for active members at least 3 hours every 3 months. Only fire suppression training is credited.
Apparatus – The department must have at least one pumper, in each qualifying station, meeting the general criteria of National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1901, Standard for Automotive Fire Apparatus.
Housing – The department must properly house apparatus to provide protection from the weather.
Records – The fire department should keep detailed records of all its activities of training, equipment testing and maintenance, and records of response to structure fires.
Response distance – Generally, the response distance from a fire station should not exceed 2 road miles for built-up residential where such dwellings have an average separation is less than 100 ft and up to 4 road miles for where such dwellings have an average separation of 100 ft or more. Response distance from a fire station should not exceed 1 road mile in built-up commercial areas. Any property over 5 road miles does not qualify for a fire insurance rating classification other than a class 10, regardless if the property is inside the boundaries of the municipality or legal district.
Emergency communications – Communication facilities and arrangement must operate without delay in the receipt of alarms and dispatch of firefighters and apparatus.
Other Criteria – In reviewing the firefighting capabilities of a municipality or legal district, the Mississippi State Rating Bureau (MSRB) uses additional minimum requirements for receiving particular fire insurance grading classifications:
- Additional Requirements for Grading Class 9
- Additional Requirements for Grading Class 8 or better
- Relative Values and Points per Classification
Should additional information be desired or particular questions need answers, we suggest that the Mississippi State Rating Bureau's Superintendent of Public Protection, Ty Windham, or Public Protection Field Rating Representatives, Richard Parham and Richard Watkins be contacted at the following:
Mississippi State Rating Bureau
Post Office Box 5231
Jackson, Mississippi 39296-5231
Telephone Number (601) 981-2915
FAX (601) 981-2924