Jersey City Fire Department awarded Class 1 honors from Insurance Services Office

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The Jersey City Fire Department was officially awarded the Public Protection Classification 01 from the Insurance Services Office (ISO) at a ceremony in the Heights this afternoon.


By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View

This is the first time in the Jersey City Fire Department’s 151-year history they have secured the designation. It places the JCFD in the top 1 percent of fire departments in the United States. It has the potential to lower insurance premiums for residents and businesses.

“We are among the best of the best. They quantified what we’ve done to improve ourselves and it shows by giving us that Class 1 certification,” Fire Chief Steven McGill said at the Reservoir Fire Station at 715 Summit Ave.

Going from a Class 2 to a Class 1 could amount to millions of savings for homeowners and condo buildings, he added.

He also explained that they follow standards established by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the American Waterworks Association.

“All these things are codified after months of months of coming here and evaluating us.”

McGill also noted that the classification process was delayed due to COVID-19.

While weathering COVID, the JCFD made changes in management, increased certified training, a new Police/Fire Computer Aided Dispatch system run by CSI, and better coordination with external vendors.

The certification will be effective as of July 1st and they were last evaluated in 2019.

“We needed three years’ worth of data to get it together,” McGill said, noting that initially one of the problems they had was documenting their work, including their training.

“It has special meaning to us because ISO is a Verisk company and our headquarters actually are in Jersey City. Our colleagues come to work knowing we’re well protected,” ISO Vice President and Chief Engineer Kevin Kuntz stated.

He explained the ISO supports the insurance industry and that there are only 450 cities that are Class 1, which also now includes New York City.

“We evaluate almost 39,000 fire protection areas across the country and just over 450 have achieved this Class 1 classification,” Kuntz pointed out.

Several council members and city officials attended the event, including Ward B Councilwoman Mira Prinz-Arey.

“It’s really important to make sure that we support the people that support us,” she said.

“It already affirms what we knew that the Jersey City Fire Department is second to none in this country,” added Ward D Councilman Yousef Saleh.

Saleh noted many were involved in the process, among them Public Safety Director James Shea and Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security Director Greg Kierce, who also heads the Department of Public Works.

“There’s so many directors. It just goes to show you how many organs of government need to come together in order to make this possible. So many improvements need to be done in every sector of the city,” he added.

Furthermore, Councilwoman-at-Large Amy DeGise noted that she always makes it a point to support the JCFD, of which her fiancee is a member.

“I take it as a particular passion of mine as my fiancee Jack Collins is a proud Jersey City firefighter. So I know firsthand what you men and women bring home and … what you take on,” she said.

Ward F Councilman Frank “Educational” Gilmore jokingly asked if there was a 1A accreditation available before he took a serious tone to commend the firefighters.

“There’s about three professions where I look at and I can’t see why people are either extremely crazy or extremely passionate about the work that they do and being a firefighter is one of those professions,” he noted.

“You guys run into danger not knowing if you’re coming out. It takes a special kind of dedication for humanity to walk into danger risking your own life to save others.”

Retired Jersey City Fire Chief Robert Cobb also gave some remarks about the accreditation.

“No fire department in the history of ISO rating has ever accomplished the top score of 105.5. That’s as close as you can get. That’s next target,” Cobb said.

“This whole process is about coordination, about getting everybody who has an interest in this at a table and coordinating everything that had to be done.

Cobb explained he worked with McGill on improving their score since he worked for ISO after retiring from the JCFD.

Given that the Reservoir Fire Station is still active, it came as almost no surprise that an alarm went off in the middle of the ceremony, prompting firefighters to quickly spring into action.

1 COMMENT

  1. Congratulations to our Jersey City Firefighters — you all deserve this recognition and our thanks & respect from every resident in our City ! Always Be Safe & may God Bless you all !😇🙏

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