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Whitley City Fire Department gets high marks on ISO ranking

By: Greg Bird

The Whitley City Fire Department and four other local fire departments received their latest Insurance Services Office (ISO) rating, and that could be good news for McCreary County homeowners. 

Insurance companies use the department’s ISO ratings when determining insurance rates for residential and commercial policies. A higher ISO score for a department could result in lower premiums.

While ISO ratings are just a factor in how insurance premiums on homes and commercial buildings are determined, a high ISO rating for a local fire department could earn residents and business owners lower rates when renewing their policies.

The Whitley City Fire Department improved to a Class 3 rating from a Class 5 with the latest evaluation. Other departments in the county received their evaluations as well, with North McCreary improving to a Class 4 (previously Class 7), Pine Knot moving to Class 5 from Class 6 and Eagle/Sawyer remained at a Class 6.  (West McCreary was not evaluated this year and does not currently have an ISO rating).

“This was a very thorough and detailed examination of our capabilities,” Whitley City Chief Tony Miller said. “While it is a point of pride for us to be ranked a Class 3 department, the real reward goes to the citizens and businesses who are in our coverage area.”

Of more than 49,000 fire departments across the country given an ISO rating in 2014, only 2,410 received a Class 3 rating, and 3,220 in total were rated Class 3 or better, placing WCFD in the top seven percent of rated departments in America.

Fire Departments are given an ISO rating based on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the highest classification.

The overall score is based on several criteria including communications, water supply, training, and equipment.

The Whitley City Fire Department scored 77.61 out of a possible 105.5 points on the evaluation, less than 3 points from the next highest Class ranking. South McCreary scored 57.93, just over two points away from the next ranking, North McCreary and Eagle/Sawyer scored 62.74 and 46.45 respectively.

All four departments scored 8.05 out of a possible 10 points in the Emergency Communications category. Evaluators looked at the emergency reporting system, dispatchers and communications to reach that score.

In looking at the department itself, including equipment, capacity, personnel and training, WCFD scored 33.84 out of a possible 50 points.

One area where Chief Miller expects to see a higher score in the next evaluation is under training, where the department scored 6.63 out of 9 possible points. All active members of the department receive at least the minimum required hours of annual training required by the state of Kentucky, but to meet the higher ISO standards additional training in areas such as new driver training and specialized officer training have already been initiated.

The Pine Knot Fire Department scored 23.38, North McCreary Fire Department – 25.21, and Eagle/Sawyer Fire Department scored 17.75.

Chief Miller said the evaluations for each individual department take various factors into account when evaluating the departments, including number of active personnel, area covered and the types of structures in the area, which can affect scores.

The ISO certification also takes in to account the water supply in the areas served by the department. WCFD’s evaluation scored 35.78 out of a possible 40 points in those areas. South McCreary scored 25.73, North McCreary scored 32.7 and Eagle/Sawyer scored 22.23.

Finally, the department’s community programs, such as safety education, fire prevention and investigation were examined. Out of a possible 5.5 points, the Whitley City department scored 4.29, Pine Knot scored 4.28, North McCreary scored 3.05 and Eagle/Sawyer scored 2.44.

All four departments had points deducted for divergence – the difference between department and water supply scores, a standard deduction in the evaluation.

“We couldn’t have achieved this ranking without the hard work and dedication of all members of the Whitley City Fire Department,” Chief Tony Miller said. “A lot of hard work and long hours were put in by everyone to make sure we run this department at the highest level possible to serve our community in the best way possible.”

“We would also like to thank the McCreary County Water District for maintaining a top shelf water district in the county. Also to the McCreary County 911, whose work over the past years on improving their own systems help emergency responders do their jobs quickly and efficiently.”

“Additionally, the other fire departments in McCreary County play a big part in helping us and each other in our emergency responses and the ISO process.”

Miller noted all local fire departments work under a mutual aid covenant, where crews from adjoining districts respond on emergency calls to lend support and personnel.

The last ISO evaluation for the department came in 1996.

McCreary County Judge Executive Doug Stephens said he was pleased to learn about the new rankings, and praised everyone involved for their efforts.

“It is a good thing when we all work together for the good of the people,” Stephens said. “The efforts of our emergency responders make our county safer for everyone.”

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