Chief credits hard work for improved fire rating

Deb Hill
News-Argus Managing Editor

Lewistown Fire Rescue personnel stand in front of one of their engines. A recent review by the Insurance Services Office showed the company has greatly improved its capability. Shown are (front row, from left) Firefighter Ryan Peterson, Firefighter Brennon Moor, Engineer Wayne Lelek, Firefighter McKensie Butcher,
Firefighter Brian Godbey, Firefighter Kevin Raty, Firefighter Kyle Moline; (back row) Firefighter Claude White, Lieutenant Albert White, Firefighter Brett Garber, Firefighter Sean Edwards, Senior Captain Mike Davis, Chief Keith Kucera, Captain/Fire Marshal Joe Ward, Captain James Jensen, Firefighter Luke Shevela, Lieutenant Brett Ophus, Safety Officer Dick Brown and Firefighter Ben Brooks. Not pictured are Lieutenant Anthony Moline, Firefighter Russel Epperson and Safety Officer Dan Killham.
Photo courtesy of Lewistown Fire Rescue


Chief credits hard work for improved fire rating


By DEB HILL | News-Argus Managing Editor


Lewistown Fire Rescue Chief Keith Kucera recently received some welcome news: the Insurance Services Office upgraded the fire department’s Public Protection Classification.

The rating for Lewistown’s fire department improved from a class 4 to a class 3, and Lewistown Rural Fire Department’s rating changed from a class 9 to a class 3Y.

Years of hard work are hidden behind the new numbers, generally referred to as ISO or PPC ratings.

“This is huge,” Kucera said. “The work required to get to this level has been going on over the years, before I was chief, so I don’t want to take credit. Former Fire Chief Jason Manley, the city manager, different departments – a lot of people had a hand in this.”

ISO ratings are a measure of the capabilities of fire departments. According to the summary report sent to the City of Lewistown, the ratings are based on criteria such as fire flows, emergency communications, fire department equipment, staffing and training, and water supply. Ten percent of the rating is based on emergency communications, 50 percent results from a review of the fire department itself, and 40 percent is related to the water supply system.

“The change in our ISO rating might mean lower insurance rates, for those companies using ISO ratings to compute their rates,” Kucera said. “We’re in a small group of just over 3,000 cities nationwide that got a ‘3’ rating.”

Kucera credits changes in firefighter training, the hiring of additional dispatchers and increased fire flows for the lower rating.

The rating for Lewistown Rural Fire Department, which handles calls from 5 to 10 miles outside the city limits, dropped by 6 points since the prior survey was done in 1994.

“The biggest factors leading to the huge drop in classification are the installation of dry hydrants in rural areas and the reserve pumper truck we keep at the airport,” Kucera said. “Both of these increased our coverage within the 5-mile radius.”

Dry hydrants are large-diameter PVC pipes connected to ponds and other water sources. Having the pipes in place allows fire trucks to hook up to the water source without having to be quite so close to it, Kucera explained.

Kucera said even with the current improvement in ISO ratings, his department will continue to work on improving firefighting capability, which could lead to future rating improvements.

“Manpower is the biggest change we can make – training and manpower,” he said. “We are still looking for additional people to join our department, so we are still low on manpower.”

If you are interested in finding out more about joining the fire department, contact Kucera at 535-1780.



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