By Jarred Meeks
The Whitestown Fire Dept. was recently recognized for having a public protection classification of Class 2, making it one of the top-rated fire departments in Indiana.
The Insurance Services Office rates fire departments nationally, classifying them on a sliding scale from 1 to 10, with a Class 1 being the best rating a department can receive. The rating reflects a community’s ability to suppress and contain a fire. Ratings are used by insurance companies to set rates.
WFD was evaluated in early 2019, and the department’s Class 2 classification ranks it in the top 3 percent of fire departments in the nation and in the top 2 percent in Indiana. The department was ranked in the top 75 percent of fire departments in the state in 2013.
This reflects a potential insurance savings of upwards of 10 percent, according to a town press release.
The Class 2 rating is an increase from its previous Class 4 rating and an improvement from the Class 7 rating of six years ago, when WFD Chief Josh Westrich was appointed to his position.
Westrich said the improved classification is a reflection of better training, communication and other factors, but he noted one of the most dramatic improvements is a more robust staff. Westrich said the department, when he became chief, only had nine full-time personnel. As of August, the department became a full-time department with 42 full-time employees at the company level and an additional five administrative workers.
“Having the people and the apparatus to respond to each emergency was probably one of our most important improvements,” Westrich said. “The increase in the personnel definitely allows us to ensure we’re throwing the appropriate amount of personnel at each incident to be able to respond in a timely manner, to eliminate that wait.”
Westrich said the department couldn’t have reached the level of proficiency without the help of neighboring fire departments in Zionsville and Lebanon, which work in conjunction to assure timely responses throughout Boone County.