As he began his Chief’s Report, Idyllwild Fire Chief Patrick Reitz offered the district’s property owners a Christmas present. The International Organization for Standardization has raised the Idyllwild Fire Protection District rating from 4 to 2, where 1 is the best. The new rating is effective April 1, 2016.

“This could lead to [fire insurance] premium decreases and may open the door to companies who have stopped writing [fire insurance] on the Hill,” he told the commission.

The rating applies to properties within IFPD, Reitz said, and thanked the other agencies, Idyllwild and Fern Valley water districts, Idyllwild Arts and the county’s Sheriff’s Department and emergency dispatch center.

Among the major elements of a jurisdiction’s fire protection system, which ISO evaluates, are the fire department, including its equipment and staffing, water supply and emergency communications.

According to Robert Andrews, vice president of Community Hazard Mitigation at ISO, half of the rating is based on the fire department, 10 percent is based on the emergency communications and the balance is dependent on water supply.

“ISO analyzes this information and assigns an advisory number from 1 to 10. Class 1 generally represents exemplary fire protection and Class 10 indicates that the community’s fire suppression program does not meet ISO’s minimum criteria,” Andrews wrote in an email.

An example of the criteria, which ISO employs, is the level of response. “The department must have sufficient membership to assure the response of at least four members to structure fires,” according to Andrews.

Water supply is carefully evaluated for the amount of available water — in volume and pressure — compared with the amount needed to suppress fires, he added.

Both water district general managers, Steve Erler of Fern Valley and Tom Lynch of Idyllwild, said they have been improving their infrastructures for several years.

“We’ve put in larger pipelines and hydrants,” said Erler.

Lynch added that IWD had provided information on the water flow for each of its hydrants and specific system infrastructure upgrades.

The purpose and use of the ISO rating is explained at “Through the Public Protection Classification program, ISO evaluates municipal fire-protection efforts in communities throughout the United States. A community’s investment in fire mitigation is a proven and reliable predictor of future fire losses. So insurance companies use PPC information to help establish fair premiums for fire insurance — generally offering lower premiums in communities with better protection.”

“I couldn’t be more proud. We expected a ‘3’ and got a ‘2’,” Reitz said, while beaming. “Idyllwild Fire is up in rating comparable to an urbanized fire department.”

He stressed his gratitude to the two water districts and Idyllwild Arts, which has its own water supply, and the county for its emergency communications capability as well as cooperation from stations 23, 53 and 72.