Search for a building's protection class using a search engine such as the one provided by State Auto. When using the company's search engine, input the proximity to the nearest fire hydrant and the distance from the closest fire department for more accurate results.
Protection classes typically range between 1 and 10, with a lower figure representing better overall protection. Insurance companies use protection classes to determine the rates they should charge for insuring buildings against fire hazards, generally through the confluence of three criteria: fire department proximity, presence of fire alarms on-premises and local community water supply. Of these three criteria, the most significant is the distribution of fire departments in the area, which makes up 50 percent of the resulting protection class score.
The next most important factor, community water supply levels, is determined by ascertaining whether the community has access to sufficient amounts of water to provide fire suppression in addition to the community's daily consumption needs. This factor accounts for 40 percent of a building's protection class score, and is affected by the distance of the nearest fire hydrant.
The presence of fire alarms in a building accounts for 10 percent of its protection class scheduling. Elements that contribute to this factor include the ease of communication with local emergency services and how fire departments are notified of fires once they occur.