West Memphis Fire Department one of few to receive ‘Class 1’ rating

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WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. -- West Memphis is right up there with some of the best fire departments in the country, according to a recent rating on public safety labeling the city Class 1.

When the boots go on and the lights start flashing, it's time for firefighters in West Memphis to get down to business.

"That's our number one job. Saving lives," Chief Wayne Gately said.

For the head of the Wet Memphis Fire Department, saving lives means being the best at it.

According to the Insurance Services Organization (ISO), the city has one of the best fire departments in the country.

"They rate fire departments on the scale of one to ten, ten being the worst (and) one being the best -- and we are a Class One, which is the best," Gately explained.

The ISO looked at how well the dispatch center works.

Chief Gately said they asked questions like, "Is it enhanced 911? Is it recorded?"

The organization also reviewed how well the city's water system operates.

"Water mains, the hydrants, fire hydrants everything," Chief Gately said.

"We have to inspect every business twice a year in the city and we have approximately 1,200 to 1,300 businesses," Chief Gately said of the fire department's duties.

Out of more than 30,000 fire departments in the country, there are less than 60 departments with Class 1 ratings.

West Memphis Fire Department's new rating will make it only the second Class 1 agency in Arkansas.

What does this mean for people who live in West Memphis?

"It'll help on the insurance cost of businesses and residential. How much? I'm not sure," Chief Gately said.

Gately said the rating is all about firefighters getting appreciated for the life-saving work they do everyday.

"We don't get into politics. We don't do all of that," Chief Gately said.  "All we want to do is help people."

The Class 1 rating will officially go into effect on September 1.


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