Lexington fire safety ranking joins best in nation


Lexington, Ky. – The Insurance Services Organization, which measures the effectiveness of fire protection services in cities nationwide, has dramatically improved Lexington’s ranking, moving it up to a Class 1 ranking, and giving it one of the highest scores in the country.

“Our investments in the Fire Department … in personnel, in equipment, in public services, in E-911 and in training … are paying off in improved fire safety in Lexington,” Mayor Jim Gray said. “Congratulations, and thanks to our firefighters and E-911 operators.” Improved ratings can mean lower property insurance rates for property owners, especially commercial properties.

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Lexington is one of only 241 fire departments in the country, and one of only eight in Kentucky, to attain the Class 1 status from the organization, scoring 99.34 points out of a possible 105.5. The organization ranks 46,200 fire departments in the U.S. including 813 in Kentucky. Only one half of one percent of departments nationwide are rated as Class 1 Fire Departments.  Lexington was previously ranked as a Class 2.

“We have all worked really hard over the past few years to achieve this rating,” Fire Chief Kristin Chilton said. “This is a team effort, and we are lucky to have the Division of E-911 and Kentucky American Water working with us in Lexington. ISO performed an independent third party analysis, which validates our operations. It is critical to get this perspective when planning for the future.”

Robert Stack, Director of the Division of E-911, said, “Full-time 9-1-1 personnel undergo extensive training, including a five-week academy, in order to become certified telecommunicators and annual in-service training thereafter. This division also has an on-going quality control program to help ensure calls are entered and dispatched promptly and that our personnel are consistently professional in their interactions with both the community and public safety responders. Over the past several years, Lexington has invested extensively in new technology and infrastructure that benefitted 9-1-1, including a public safety radio system that combined Fire, Police, Corrections and Emergency Management on a single radio system; a new 9-1-1 phone system funded with state and local dollars; and a new 9-1-1 Dispatch Center that helped this city combine two separate dispatch centers, resulting in more efficient operations.”

Kentucky American Water also plays an important role in this ranking. “Kentucky American Water is proud to support Lexington’s fire department professionals in their critical service to the community,” said Nick Rowe, Senior Vice President, Southeast Division, American Water; President, Kentucky American Water. “Our team has worked hard and made important investments over the years to increase available water supply, replace aging water mains, and ensure well-maintained fire hydrants. We pledge to continue making prudent investments in water system infrastructure in order to support the fire department’s mission and ensure safe, clean drinking water for our customers. We congratulate Lexington’s fire department on this tremendous achievement, and we thank them for their service.”

The Insurance Services Organization evaluates emergency communications, properties’ distance to fire stations and fire hydrants, equipment, personnel, training, condition and number of hydrants, public education, fire prevention and fire investigation.

A number of factors contributed to Lexington’s improved ranking including:

  • Fire Department response times exceeding national standards
  • Community service campaigns offering free smoke alarms and in-home safety inspection or CPR training
  • New facilities, including the Training Tower
  • The department’s decision to staff ambulances to serve dual roles as EMS and firefighting crews
  • Improvements in the water supply system
  • Improvements in fire equipment
  • Improvements in training and technology in E-911