The City of Lenoir Fire Department recently earned a Class 2 rating from the NC Department of Insurance Office of State Fire Marshal (OSFM). Lenoir Fire joins the 3.9% of fire departments across the state with a rating of Class 2 or better.
The rating is based on scores for the fire department (50%), the city's water supply (40%), and emergency communications (10%). State inspectors look for proper staffing levels, sufficient equipment, proper maintenance of equipment, communications capabilities, and the availability of a water source. Ratings go from Class 1 (the highest) to Class 10 (not recognized as a certified fire department by the state).
Fire Chief Ken Hair said he was very proud to receive the Class 2 rating after the most recent inspection from the OSFM. The department's previous rating was Class 3, which is already impressive for a smaller city like Lenoir. Lenoir scored 81.56 points out of a total of 105.50 available points to receive the Class 2 rating. A Class 1 requires 90 points or more.
"It's rare for a city our size to receive a Class 2," Chief Hair said. "Our City Fire and Water departments and the County Communications department staff should be very proud, because the rating is certainly a team effort."
Many cities of similar size do not have the daily staffing levels of Lenoir. Chief Hair and his staff work very hard to provide regular training to ensure all Lenoir firefighters receive at least 20 hours of additional training every month. The City's Public Utilities (Water) Department staff also go above and beyond to make sure the City's fire hydrants are working and providing proper flow to fight fires.
"Caldwell County’s Communication Department has maximized their efforts to achieve the staffing and technology for not only our department but the other county fire departments as well, which helps our department’s rating" Chief Hair said. "Our Public Utilities Department is one of the best around. When it's time to perform our annual hydrant inspections and flows, they try to always have someone with us in case something is wrong or not up to standards, and they fix or repair problems immediately, without hesitation."
Chief Hair thanked City Council and management for ensuring that the Fire department has the staff, tools, and budget needed to provide excellent fire service to the residents and businesses in Lenoir.
"I want to thank City Council and the City Manager for working to make sure we have the staff and equipment that we need," Chief Hair said. "Their commitment is made apparent by this new and improved rating for the Lenoir Fire Department."
While lower ratings do not necessarily indicate poor service, a higher rating does suggest that a department is overall better equipped to respond to fires in its district. Higher ratings can also significantly lower business insurance rates in that fire district. If a company is trying to decide to relocate or expand into a new community, many times the owners will choose the community with the better fire rating, because it will lower their annual insurance premiums and reduce some of their overhead costs.
"I'd like to congratulate Chief Hair for the department's performance and for the hard work of all the department members," said North Carolina Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Mike Causey. "The citizens in these Fire Districts should rest easy knowing they have a fine group of firefighters protecting them and their property in case of an emergency."
The City of Lenoir is one of 38 out of 1,520 departments across the state with a Class 2 rating. Only 21 departments hold a Class 1 rating.
In the nation, there are only 1,673 departments with a Class 2 rating and only 373 with Class1.
The Lenoir Fire Department operates three fire stations within the City limits. Station 1 is located on Harper Avenue in Downtown Lenoir, Station 2 is located on Norwood Street in Whitnel, and Station 3 is located on Wilkesboro Boulevard in Lower Creek.
The department employs around 60 firefighters in three divisions - Administration, Suppression, and Training / Prevention. In addition to fighting fires, Lenoir firefighters respond to medical calls, provide rescue services including heavy rescue, participate in community education and outreach, provide fire inspections and enforce fire codes, and manage the City's smoke alarm program.
The Class 2 rating becomes effective Sept. 1, 2022.
For more information about the Fire Department, click the following link, Fire Department.