Fire safety rating improves in Pigeon Forge

Firefighters test new hoses as a part of preparing for an ISO inspection. (Source: Kyle Grainger, WVLT)

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (WVLT)-- Pigeon Forge can boast about one more thing, a improving fire safety rating for the city's fire department.

Last week the department got word that the ISO, or Insurance Service Office, has raised the city's safety level from a class 5 to class 3. Chief Tony Watson was smiling from ear to ear knowing his department has met a standard few departments make.

"This will give the city of Pigeon Forge a road map for the future. We'll know what we're good at, we'll know what our deficiencies are," said Watson.

Watson says the ISO inspector looks at operations of the fire department, to how the city's water supply is. He says the city added a new fire station this year, and he believes that will help with the overall rating. However, he says what ever the rating is, it will serve as guidance about where the fire department can improve and make the city safer for everyone.

Watson says moving the city from a class 5 to class 3 could help save the city as a whole $1.5 million.

"Taking those ratings down could be worth millions to all the residence and the business owners inside the city limits of pigeon forge as a whole," said Watson. "Lowering these residential insurance premiums is very important for our community and it saves them money."

“Pigeon Forge went from an all-volunteer fire department to a professional staff in 2007, and we immediately began the effort to improve the city’s rating,” said Chief Tony Watson.

“If city management and the city commission hadn’t embraced this effort, it wouldn’t have happened,” Watson said.

City Manager Earlene Teaster said she was proud of everyone involved in achieving the Class 3 rating, citing Watson and the fire department along with Lynn Light, superintendent of the Pigeon Forge Water Department. She said the rating is an important point of distinction for Pigeon Forge.

“Our residents and guests aren’t likely to think about a fire protection rating very often, but everyone behind the scenes knows how important this is. It’s also a big deal to point out to prospective new businesses,” Teaster said.