Sandy Springs’ fire insurance classification from the Insurance Service Office has improved.

Sandy Springs Fire Rescue Chief Keith Sanders.

City officials previously said that the improvement—from 3 to 2 on a 10-point scale—likely will not result in significant insurance rate savings for most residents, which involves many factors. But it’s a sign of a safer city as Fire Rescue Chief Keith Sanders continues department improvements he’s been making since taking over in October 2014.

“The new rating reflects numerous improvements initiated by the department and much hard work by the men and women in the organization,” Sanders said in a press release. “This accomplishment is indicative of the superior team we have in place, as well as the strong support we receive from our elected officials, citizens and businesses.”

ISO is a private organization that runs a fire department safety survey that major insurance companies can use as one standard in calculating local fire insurance rates. Sandy Springs got a Class 3 rating in its previous ISO survey in 2011. Results of an updated ISO survey were recently delivered to the city and improved the ranking to Class 2.

According to the city, the Class 2 ranking places the Sandy Springs fire department in ISO’s top 2 percent. There are 1,060 Class 2 fire departments in the U.S. and 36 in Georgia, according to the city.

ISO’s fire department classification is often a factor in determining area insurance rates, but some companies may not use it at all, and such factors as building materials and credit scores can play a role in an individual’s rates.

However, the improved classification does mean ISO found objective improvements in fire department equipment, operations and communication. Access to a good water supply and good community fire prevention practices are also factors in ISO’s rating.

Sanders has made several significant changes to Fire Rescue, including moving to a full-time staffing and inking deals with neighboring cities to provide automatic fire truck and ambulance response to previous underserved areas of Sandy Springs.

John Ruch

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.