Chattanooga Fire Department Earns Top Fire Protection Rating

Thursday, October 26, 2017
Mayor Andy Berke
Mayor Andy Berke
- photo by Bruce Garner

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 (ISO), 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,” said Mayor Andy Berke. “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 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,” said Fire Chief Phil Hyman, who was officially confirmed as chief by the city council on October 10, 2017. "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, which contribute to the local economy,” said Berke.

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

1. Emergency Communications – (the 911 system)

2. Fire Department – (including equipment, staffing, training, geographic distribution of fire companies)

3. Water Supply – (including the number and location of hydrants, as well as the inspection and flow testing of hydrants, which is done twice a year in Chattanooga)

4. Community Risk Reduction – (including code inspections, fire investigations and public education activities)

Chief Hyman also attributed the achievement to other agencies that work closely with the fire department.  “Hamilton County 911 and the three water utility districts we work with all scored high with this ISO evaluation,” he said. “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 January 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 (0.5%).

ISO is an independent company that serves insurance companies, communities, fire departments, insurance regulators, and others by providing information about risk. ISO’s staff collects information about municipal fire suppression efforts in communities throughout the United States. In each of these communities, ISO analyzes the relevant data and assigns a Public Protection Classification grade – a number from 1 to 10. Class 1 represents an exemplary fire suppression program, and Class 10 indicates that the area’s fire suppression program does not meet ISO’s minimum criteria. 

Fire Chief Phil Hyman
Fire Chief Phil Hyman
- Photo2 by Bruce Garner


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