MIDDLE CREEK – The residents in Middle Creek have a reason for celebration. The Middle Creek Volunteer Fire Department recently went through a Public Protection Classification audit to determine their ISO rating.
What is ISO and why should you care? The Insurance Service Office (ISO) is an independent company that rates every community in the United States for fire and emergency readiness. The ISO rating is then used to determine the insurance rates for the community that the fire department is responsible for. The communities are rated on items like manpower, equipment and training, water supply and communications. The fire department is the holder of this rating and by lowering their ISO ratings every fire department can in turn lower the cost of property insurance for their community. The residents owning property in Middle Creek should see a deduction in their home owners insurance; fire insurance thanks to the hard work, dedication and leadership the firefighters at Middle Creek have worked hard to accomplish. The ISO rating went from a 7.9 to a 3y. The lower the number the better the score. The fire department is moving toward a goal of a 1 as its rating.
“We have really been working hard toward obtaining this rating. We currently have 38 active firefighters and we are 100% volunteer. We have training every Tuesday and every active firefighter is career trained, meaning they have as many training hours as paid firefighters,” said James Billiter. “The men and women that volunteer their time to MCFD do so because they want to do something for their community. Many fireman have families and various obligations they put on hold when called out for an emergency. I hope the residents of Middle Creek realize the time and effort these men and women put into making our community safe and saving our residents money, by obtaining and maintain a 3Y ISO rating which lowers the cost of their homeowners insurance.”
The state of Kentucky has 900 fire departments. Currently their are only 78 departments that have accomplished this important rating. 28 departments have an ISO of two, and only 7 boast an ISO rating of 1. These ratings include volunteer and paid fire stations. The 3y ISO rating is evidence of the hardwork, dedication, and pride the Middle Creek Volunteer firefighters exhibit.
Billiter is the fire chief at MCFD and he also works for Prestonsburg Fire Department and serves as Fire Inspector for the City of Prestonsburg. Some of the leaders at Middle Creek Fire Department are: Larry Dotson, Training Officer; Barry Billiter, Assistant Fire Chief; Chris Shepherd, Captain; Cory Dotson, Captain; Eugene Prater, Safety Officer. The following individuals serve as lieutenants: Justin Billiter, Josh Ratliff, Tim Vaughn, Jason Holbrook, and Ronnie Burke. Rudolph Ousley, veterinarian serves as president of the Fire Board. The department has three active women firefighters: Mary Bentley, Ashley Begley and Danielle Sword. Every member of the department plays a vital role in the success and growth of the fire station.
MCFD has applied for and received grants, and also held fundraisers such as bingo, road blocks, and bake sales to raise enough funds to buy essential equipment for the firefighters to use when an emergency happens, one example is the purchase of Thermal Imaging Cameras. The firefighter points the camera at the structure on fire and the camera will show if any movement or activity is going on in the structure. For example, if a child gets scared and runs and hides, this camera will enable the firemen to locate and evacuate the child quickly and efficiently.
“Recently we had a fire in the area where a house had smoke inside the home, however no fire was visible. We used the thermal imaging cameras to scan the house, find the fire, cut a hole in the ceiling area where the fire was, and we were able to get to the fire and extinguish it with minimal damage to the home,” said Billiter.
The department is proactive in seeking various grant opportunity to obtain new needed equipment. January 2016 they purchased 10 fire suits at a cost of $3000 each.
“It is exciting to be a part of a volunteer fire department that is doing so many things. The new fire suits is something to be excited about. We do training of how to effectively and quickly get into fire gear and out the door when called on an emergency. One minute is the guideline for a fireman to go from civilian clothing to complete fire gear, in the truck and in route to the scene of the emergency, said Aaron Blackburn, a nine year career certified fireman.
In order to be career certified, 400 training hours are required. This means you have enough training to go anywhere and work as a trained paid fireman. 20 hours a year is required to maintain career certified status.
The department is also proud of their Junior Fireman Program. They currently have six individuals in the program. Ronnie Burke is Director of the Junior Fireman Program. This program is for young men and women who are not yet 18, but are interested in becoming a fireman. In this program they receive all the same training as adult firefighters. Chester Davis recently graduated from the Junior Fireman program, and is now in rookie status.
“I really enjoy being a part of the MCFD. The training is first class and accomplishing different goals and completing various training exercises is something to be proud of,” said Chester Davis, a one year firefighter.
The MCFD continues to train its volunteers to be effective and knowledgeable when faced with an emergency situation. If you live in the Middle Creek area, check your homeowners insurance and make sure they are aware of your area’s new ISO rating, it could save you hundreds of dollars a year.
MCFD is always looking for new volunteers to work.
Volunteers are needed at the MCFD.
“Get involved in our community as MCFD continue to make Middle Creek a nice safe place to live,” said Billiter.
Andrea Saddler is a reporter for The Floyd County Times. She can be reached at 606/886-8506.