City of Burleson honored with top ‘ISO’ rating
It took the city’s fire department 20 years to transition from all-volunteer to one of the best in the nation.
That standard was celebrated this month – in spades – as the city of Burleson joined a group of 270 municipalities in the United States and 46 in the state to receive an Insurance Services Office Class 1 rating.
This rating comes from the nationwide classification system used by the Insurance Services Office to reflect a community’s local fire protection for property insurance rating purposes, according to the Texas Department of Insurance. The public fire protection of a city, town or area is graded using ISO’s Fire Suppression Rating Schedule to develop the community’s classification, tdi.texas.gov states.
This is a monumental development, officials said.
“Our department has strived to become one of the nation’s best,” Burleson Fire Chief K.T. Freeman said in an issued statement. “This upgrade reflects the hard work and dedication of Burleson firefighters to save lives and property every day, and Burleson’s city council’s commitment to providing top-notch public safety to this community.”
Chris Connealy, state fire marshal, and Phillip Bradley, Texas manager for ISO, were on hand at the Nov. 13 City Council meeting where the development was formally announced.
The point of the BFD’s extraordinary evolution over the years was underscored by an emergency call that came in during the meeting, prompting many of the firefighters present to spring into action and rush to their vehicles.
This ISO Class 1 rating officially goes into effect Dec. 1.
Officials say it has been a goal for the fire department since it received an ISO-2 rating in 2015. An additional six firefighters were hired in 2016. The City Council provided the necessary support to provide the department with needed equipment, cutting-edge technology – and, of course, training.
There were also investments in the city’s water infrastructure system by the city that were considered for this upgrade.
Additionally, in line with the strong business emphasis voiced by officials such as Mayor Ken Shetter and Economic Development Director Alex Philips, this designation is an enticing draw for companies looking to relocate, according to the city.
Business officials who research prospective cities tend to compare cost and service factors. The ISO-1 rating provides a green flag that presents Burleson as a municipality whose officials are prepared to meet the current and future needs of the community.
“Our residents’ and business community’s safety and quality of life is a top priority for all of us on City Council,” Shetter said in an issued statement. “When companies and families look to Burleson, we want them to feel confident knowing they are served by one of the top fire organizations in the country and that we invest in areas that directly affect their day-to-day lives.”
It’s a wonderful standard to have at a time when other residents and businesses might be experiencing varying declines in their insurance premiums, officials said.
The ISO classification is administered as follows, according to the city:
• Every municipality is given an ISO rating, which ranges from 1 to 10, where one is the highest-and best.
• The score is based on a city’s emergency communications, water distribution system and fire department.
• The ISO currently evaluates over 50,000 fire departments nationwide and less than one percent are given the coveted ISO-1 classification.
It has been an interesting 20 years since the city had its all-volunteer fire department, officials said.
The first paid firefighter was hired in 1997. A combination department – comprised of both paid and volunteer firefighters – was maintained until 2010. The department then became fully staffed with paid firefighters, city officials said.
Currently, Burleson currently employs 45 firefighters.
In the past year, a new ladder truck was added to the fleet consisting of two brush trucks, one rescue apparatus and two engines.
Additionally the city contracts ambulance services with MedStar Mobile Healthcare.
The Burleson Fire Department’s ability to achieve this classification is a reflection of the city of Burleson’s commitment to providing quality public safety services to the citizens, businesses and visitors of Burleson, the mayor said.
“What really sets Burleson apart in this upgrade is that we are still a city focused on maintaining a sense of community, yet we have managed to achieve a level of fire protection you generally see in a much larger city,” Shetter said. “This is just one more thing that makes Burleson hometown, done right.”
The fire chief agreed.
“One will be hard-pressed to find another department within the entire U.S. fire service that has been able to achieve an ISO-1 rating within 20 years of becoming a fully paid department,” Freeman said. “It is unprecedented and helps to illustrate Burleson’s can-do spirit.”