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Front Page - Friday, November 3, 2017

Fire Department earns top fire protection rating

The Chattanooga Fire Department turns a chilly February morning into a swelter as it incinerates a donated structure as part of its live fire training for recruits. - File photograph by David Laprad

The Chattanooga Fire Department has been upgraded from a Class 2 to a Class 1 Public Protection Classification. The Class 1 rating is the highest rating given by the Insurance Services Office, which rates the ability of fire departments across the country to respond to and suppress structure fires.

“Our fire department protects life and property every day in Chattanooga and has gone above and beyond in attaining this classification,” Mayor Andy Berke says. “Congratulations to Fire Chief Phil Hyman and his team for working so diligently to reach this level. It reflects the excellence of the department and the organizations that supported them in this goal.”

Chattanooga joins three other cities in Tennessee to achieve the Class 1 designation, and it is the first of the four largest cities in the state to earn that distinction. “This process started with my predecessor, Fire Chief Chris Adams,” says Hyman, who was officially confirmed as chief by the city council on October 10.

“We’ve had a team of officers working on this for a couple of years, and their efforts have definitely paid off.”

The upgraded ISO classification may mean lower insurance premiums for local homeowners, but the more significant benefits will be seen by commercial property owners.

“This classification not only benefits business owners in Chattanooga who may see a decrease in their premiums, but it is also a great recruiting tool to attract new companies,” Berke says.

The ISO uses four main criteria in determining a fire department’s classification:

  • Emergency communications, the 911 system
  • Fire departments, including equipment, staffing, training and geographic distribution of companies
  • Water supply, including the number and location of hydrants
  • Community risk reduction, including code inspections, fire investigations and public education activities

Chief Hyman also attributed the achievement to other agencies that work with the fire department.

“Hamilton County 911 and the three water utility districts we work with all scored high with this ISO evaluation,” Hyman adds. “Without their excellent service, we would not be a Class 1 department.”

The other Class 1 ISO fire departments in Tennessee are located in Franklin, Columbia and Johnson City.

The new ISO classification for Chattanooga goes into effect Jan. 1, 2018.

Less than 300 fire departments in the country have a Class 1 rating, placing the Chattanooga Fire Department in the top half percent of all departments nationwide.

Source: Chattanooga Fire Department