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North Summit residents may pay less for insurance with improved fire district rating

The Insurance Services Office now classifies the North Summit Fire District as a level 5 department, which means its
North Summit Fire District
The Insurance Services Office now classifies the North Summit Fire District as a level 5 department, which means its fire preparedness has improved.

The Insurance Services Office improved the North Summit Fire District's rating.

The ISO evaluates fire departments across the country, scoring them on firefighting preparedness.

On the ISO scale, 1 is considered excellent protection and 10, the poorest rating, means no protection at all.

North Summit Fire’s rating just improved from 6/6X to 5/5X. The X indicates some of the district’s jurisdiction lacks adequate water supply, so the level of service decreases outside the population centers.

South Summit Fire Protection District’s rating is 6/6X, Morgan County Fire District is 5/5X, Wasatch County Fire District is 4/4X and Park City Fire District is 3/3X. The Salt Lake City Fire Department boasts an ISO rating of 1.

The ISO rating accounts for fire departments’ equipment and communications as well as things like the local water system, which the department itself does not control.

A better rating can mean lower insurance premiums, although residents should check with their insurance provider.

“Any time we can drop that, and it is a good thing. It helps people pay for their homes more easily,” North Summit Fire Chief Ben Nielson said.

Insurance agents are quick to note rates are more closely tied to the number of claims in a specific area than they are to ISO ratings. An improved ISO rating may correlate with fewer damage claims, but the rating itself won’t automatically lower rates.

Many rural Utah fire departments rely on volunteers, who call off from their day job to fight fires. North Summit has hired full-time firefighters after the Summit County Council approved a 300% tax increase.

“We're super grateful that the community was able to help support us the last couple of years,” Chief Nielson said. “We've been able to accomplish everything that we wanted to when I first got into office in March of 2022, and I think the ISO rating is one of the last things that we needed to accomplish to get the community what they deserve.”

That doesn’t mean the district is done. Nielson says the ISO rating could improve again with the next audit because the district is now keeping better records of training, maintenance and equipment inspections.

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