No state law governs testing of fire hydrants, so procedures vary by city and county. The variations in those methods can account for the different ratings Atlanta area cities and counties have received from the Insurance Services Office, an independent organization that rates the effectiveness of fire protection systems. Those ISO ratings can affect homeowner insurance rates in those communities.
The ratings are on a scale of 1 to 10. The lower the score the better. A rating of 1 represents “exemplary fire protection.” East Point has a 4 rating, compared with Alpharetta, which has a 2; Austell, 4; Atlanta, 2; Cobb County, 3; College Park, 4; Decatur, 2; DeKalb County, 3; and Marietta, 3. A community’s water supply — including the condition of its fire hydrants and how often they are inspected — accounts for 40 percent of what goes into an ISO rating.
Insurers pay close attention to those ratings, said David Colmans, executive director of the Georgia Insurance Information Service, which represents home, rental and auto insurers.
“When rates are set for homeowner insurance, the ISO rating is figured into that,” Colmans said.
The American Water Works Association recommends that hydrants be inspected at least once a year to make certain they are working properly.