Commissioner of Insurance Mike Causey and Deputy State Fire Marshal Tony Bailey announced today that the Wendell Fire Department improved its fire rating from Class 2 to Class 1 within town limits. With this achievement, eight of Wake County’s 12 municipalities have Class 1 ratings. The remaining have Class 2.
“Our fire departments continue to go above and beyond to ensure the safety of our residents, which is especially important in an area that is seeing such explosive growth,” said Commissioner Matt Calabria, chair of the board’s Public Safety Committee. “We congratulate the Wendell Fire Department on this achievement, and we thank our firefighters for their hard work and dedication.”
Not only does the Wendell Fire Department serve homes and businesses inside town limits, it is also responsible for responding to emergencies in the rural, unincorporated areas surrounding the town. With this evaluation, that unincorporated area improved from Class 3 to Class 2.
The Wendell Fire Department is a not-for-profit department that is completely funded by the Wake County Fire Tax District. In 2020, Wake County opened the new Wendell Falls Public Safety Center, a 16,349-square-foot fire/EMS station, which became the third Wake County-funded station helping serve this area.
“We are so proud of our fire department and their efforts to reach this amazing accomplishment,” said Wendell Mayor Virginia Gray. “This is very exciting for our town, and we appreciate our partners that provide this service to the residents of Wendell.”
Wendell Fire Chief Brian Staples expressed his gratitude to Causey and Bailey for making the presentation today. He also thanked the staff and members of the Wendell Fire Department for their efforts and hard work serving the residents of Wendell and eastern Wake County.
“Our ISO grade is not only a reflection of their efforts, but the efforts of our neighboring departments, who we train and work with every day,” Staples said. “I would also like to thank Wake County Fire Services and Director Darrell Alford for their continued support of all fire departments in Wake County. Today's announcement is truly the result of a team effort by all. Thank you again to everyone involved for their assistance and support.”
Fire ratings are based on inspections that examine how well a local fire department can protect your community and home. Insurance companies use these ratings to determine how much they’ll charge to insure businesses, so improvements can mean significant savings for commercial structures.
The North Carolina Response Rating System’s scale ranges from 1 (highest) to 10 (not recognized as a certified fire department by the state). While any rating does not necessarily indicate poor service, a more favorable rating does suggest that a department is better equipped overall to respond to fires — and therefore can result in lower insurance rates in that district.
The inspection, which is required by the state on a regular basis, looks for proper staffing levels, sufficient equipment, proper maintenance of equipment, communications capabilities and availability of a water source. State law requires OSFM officials to inspect departments serving districts of 100,000 people or fewer.
“This is great news for the residents in and around Wendell,” said Darrell Alford, director of Wake County Fire Services. “We are extremely proud of the Wendell Fire Department and the excellent services they provide.”