WSRB - A Public Service Institution

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. WSRB assigns each community a Protection Class  of 1 through 10, where 1 indicates exemplary fire protection capabilities, and 10 indicates the capabilities, if any, are insufficient for insurance rating credit.

It is sometimes thought that a Protection Class 4 community has a "better" fire department than a Protection 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. 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 may be based on capabilities that are not under the direct control of the fire department.

Once WSRB has determined a community's classification, insurance companies are notified and may begin using the classification for buildings 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 responding 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 insurance premiums should contact their insurance agent.

WSRB works closely with a number of parties including the state Office of Insurance Commissioner,  the fire chiefs, fire marshals and water purveyors of Washington State to ensure that the classification process is fair, equitable and representative of the actual conditions  of a community.   For more than 105 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, Vice President of Public Protection, 509.228.8062.