The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Tennessee County Municipal Advisory Service

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ISO Ratings of TN Fire Departments

Reference Number: MTAS-413
Tennessee Code Annotated
Reviewed Date: November 09, 2016
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Of the 921 ISO-classified communities in Tennessee, 217, or 23.56 percent, are grade 9, and they meet only minimum standards.

The Tennessee ISO ratings are consistent with national ratings in that “more than one-third of the fire districts in the United States have a Class 9 rating, which indicates the minimum recognized standard of fire protection. And more than 63 percent of the fire districts have gradings of Class 7 to 10. The value of homes in areas graded Class 7 to 10 is rising faster than in areas with better classifications. From 1994 to 1998, the average amount of insurance purchased by homeowners in communities graded Class 7 to 10 grew nearly 14 times faster than in communities graded Class 1 to 6, where the rate of growth was only 0.3 percent. [9]

While many Tennessee cities and utility districts with water systems have unaccounted-for water losses from 10 percent to as much as 50 percent, amounting to hundreds of thousands of gallons annually, the typical residential fire requires approximately 4,500 gallons for extinguishment, cleanup, and refilling tanks. Fire department usage is a mere drop in the bucket in comparison to water loss from leakage. A new Tennessee statute requires that cities report their unaccounted-for water losses annually. “The State of Arkansas addressed this problem in statutes indicating that nothing in this subchapter shall be construed to prevent county, municipal, or local water utilities or associations from contributing water free of charge for fire fighting and training activities to volunteer fire departments and districts. [10] The statute encourages a commitment to better fire service with the supply of water.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Arkansas Code Annotated 14-284-408. Contribution; funds; water.