Kissimmee Fire Department achieves top insurance safety rating
By Tiffanie Reynolds
After decades of hard work and evaluation by the entire department, the Insurance Services Organization recognized the Kissimmee Fire Department as a Class 1 Fire Department, the highest rating given to local fire departments across the country.
Scored on the components of dispatch, fire and water, the fire department is now the 10th in the state and 60th in the nation to receive this rating by the Insurance Services Organization (ISO). David Kilbury, chief of the Kissimmee Fire Department, said that it wasn’t just the efforts of the agency that pushed Kissimmee’s rating from a two to a one, but also the efforts of the Kissimmee Police Dispatch Center, whose recent accreditation boosted the department’s overall score.
“Some departments struggle in staffing, some struggle in the record keeping and testing, and some struggle in not meeting the training requirements. And so this has been a long journey to get to class one. I am truly honored to be the fire chief of a class one fire department. It began many, many years ago with previous chiefs and employees and training to get us to the milestone that we reached here with this rating,” said Kilbury.
While the rating is a direct reflection of the fire department, the rest of the city also gets to share a piece of the department’s new title. The rating will drop fire insurance premiums for businesses and residents within Kissimmee city limits, with a bigger drop for businesses. Kilbury said that this new rating even makes the city available to bigger companies that only operate in areas with an ISO rating of a 1 or 2.
Within the fire department, this rating also is based on their training, public education, staffing, response and testing for equipment. Since a Charleston, S.C. furniture store fire killed nine firefighters in 2007, the ISO changed the way it conducts its evaluation, only giving Kilbury and his department a around two weeks to prepare. In that limited amount of time, Kilbury focused on the department’s efficiency, moving the department’s two new fire engines and tower truck to stations whose area needed it the most. Switching the new tower truck from Station 13 with one of the new fire engines in Station 11 put the tower truck closer to downtown Kissimmee, where the tower truck would be needed with the high-rise buildings in the area.
“The majority of our higher structures that go vertical were in this district. So, that was one of the reasons we moved this truck down here. If we moved it or left it at Station 13, it would have been beyond its travel distance to get the max amount of points. So, those are some of the things we did internally that really didn’t cost money to implement. It was just getting creative to get the best response model to the citizens and the community with the resources we had,” said Kilbury.
Condensing Kissimmee from a split class to a single class rating also helped their score. For years, rural areas within Kissimmee city limits had to be rated differently, since these areas didn’t have the same direct access to water sources as more urbanized areas of the city. As the city has developed, especially with Tapestry, a residential area currently under construction, the ISO will no longer have to make that distinction. This gives the fire department an equal area for ISO inspections.
Since receiving this rating, Kilbury says that the next possible goal for the department is to get its own accreditation through the Public Safety Excellence Organization. Unlike ISO, this accreditation is through peer review and inspection, along with self-evaluation.