The Imboden Volunteer Fire Department recently received its new ISO rating, dropping from a 3 to a 2.
“It’s about unheard of for our size,” Chief Jim Jones said of earning a Class 2 rating.
The new rating gives Imboden the lowest ISO in Lawrence County and puts them among the lowest rated departments in the state.
“This rating will help insurance considerably, especially on commercial insurance,” Chief Jones said.
Chief Jones credits a combination of things for the new rating including the city water being up to standards, the department’s equipment being up to standards, 911 upgrades, and firefighters participation in training.
Mayor Chris Jones said community risk reduction, keeping city codes updated, inspections and preplanning for commercial buildings and school inspections also contribute to the ISO rating.
Support from the city council and being creative with resources helped the department make improvements through the years. The department purchased used fire trucks from bigger departments, and refurbished an old military vehicle to serve as a brush truck.
Chief Jones said equipment and everything else aside, what he credits for the department’s success is the roster of firefighters who dedicate their time to answering the call day in and day out.
“We have 25 firefighters I’d put up against anyone else,” he said. “I can’t say enough about our firemen. They go above and beyond the call for a volunteer fire department.”
While they all volunteer with the Imboden Department, they bring a bountiful amount of experience from their work including serving as professional firefighters with other departments, working as EMTs and serving in law enforcement.
Many have also served on the city council at some time, and Mayor Jones is also a captain with the Imboden VFD.
“The council has always supported the fire department, but the fire department has always supported the council too,” Mike Cameron said. “We all work together.”
Chief Jones, now 72, said he has been on the fire department since he was 16 years old.
“For years we were a Class 8,” he said. “When we got to a 3, we were real proud of that. As hard as we worked, we didn’t expect a 2.”
He said earning the Class 2 rating as a volunteer fire department is a major accomplishment.
“There’s not a single paid person here,” Chief Jones said. “Being all volunteers, you leave family events, ballgames, Christmas. When the pager goes off you get up … sometimes you come back and they’re asleep and don’t know when you got home.”
Assistant Chief Joe Chappell, who also works on an ambulance, said the department’s service on medical calls is invaluable “from the paramedic standpoint, just knowing these guys are here and I can get help,” he said.
It has been a long road to get from an 8 to a 2, and Mayor Jones said many have contributed through the years, but he gave credit to his father, Steve Jones, for getting the department headed in the right direction in the 1970s.
“He is the person really responsible for getting this train heading the right way down the track,” Mayor Jones said.
The department now has not only a fully equipped station at Imboden, but also a substation at Annieville.
“We don’t have any new stuff, but it’s good stuff,” Chief Jones said. “It’s reworked and refurbished, but obviously it fit the bill.”