Thursday, September 27, 2007
Cayce attains Class 8
By SUE WATSON
Cayce Fire Department has obtained a grading district from the Mississippi State Rating Bureau, according to a press release from the bureau last week.
The change in public fire protection classification making the Cayce Area Fire Protection Grading District eligible for Class 8 means that property owners living within the district’s grading boundaries may be eligible for reduced insurance premiums.
Individuals who own property within the boundaries of the new Fire Protection Grading District should remind their insurance providers of the change immediately, said Bob Carrington with Greer and White Insurance in Holly Springs. All insurance companies within the state that are members of the Mississippi State Rating Bureau have already been advised of the reclassification of Cayce Fire Protection District to a Class 8, he said.
Carrington praised the efforts of the Marshall County Fire Service office and Cayce Fire Department’s officers for the work they did to get this reclassification from a Class 10 to a Class 8. Byhalia and Potts Camp fire departments are also Class 8 and Holly Springs Fire Department holds a Class 6 rating, he said.
“Hugh Hollowell and the Cayce Fire Department have worked a yeoman’s job on this,” Carrington said. “This shows the other rural fire departments they can do it, too.”
Hollowell said Cayce worked on the application process for over a year, but it took four or five years to get the department ready to apply for a new rating.
“We’ve been working on equipment upgrades and training for four or five years,” he said. “It’s not a simple matter of making an application. You have to have equipment, training, and a community water system is a help. Ultimately, it was the hard work of the membership that made it happen.”
Barton Fire Department is the next logical candidate for a new grading district, Hollowell said.
“Our plan was to get one done and we’d know the proper steps to get the next one done. This is sort of uncharted ground for us here in Marshall County.”
Harry Willis, assistant fire chief at Cayce and president of the board of directors, was jubilant at the news.
“Yee ha!” he said.
“It’s just a long, drawn-out process, which we know now so the next one should be considerably easier. This should drop homeowners’ insurance rates. The only thing we ask back is they pay their fire dues.”
Voting members pay $15 a year or $30 a household (husband/wife), Willis said.
Cayce Fire Department has about 250 due-paying members out of just under 1,200 households in its response area, Willis said.
“That gives you an idea of the number of people coming along free for the ride,” he said. “And we always need volunteers - who don’t have to be firefighters.”
Other types of help the departments look for are assistance with equipment maintenance, landscaping, and housekeeping.
Cayce now has 21 volunteer firefighters, Willis said.
Another way to support the Cayce Fire Department is to participate in the October 5 fish fry open from 5:30 p.m. until 7 p.m.
All proceeds go to the fire department. Tickets can be purchased in advance from firefighters or at the door. Those who buy plates can eat in or take out.
Cayce Fire Department was chartered with the help of J.W. Armour, Jim Robinson, Thomas Ashworth, Roy Lambert and the assistance of attorney Jimmy Warren January 26, 1981.
“We took it upon ourselves to establish the fire department and I donated the land - 0.53 acres,” Armour said.
The new department already had obtained a 1943 International truck from Mineral Wells. After Marshall County helped Cayce get a new truck in 1983 - a 1983 Ford 800 pumper - Cayce sold the truck back to Mineral Wells, he said.
Armour gave the department an old 2,800 gallon milk tank and a truck.
“That helped us get started,” said Armour.
Then several years ago the department added three more bays and added a brush truck.
The department held fund-raisers - fish fries, bingo, and charged dues - to pay off a loan to build the first firehouse.
Insurance rebate money and a low interest loan helped buy a new pumper truck in 2001.
But it is leadership and volunteerism that have brought Cayce to where it is now.
Armour came on as first fire chief for four years, followed by Mike Novay, Michael Byrd, Tommy Perry and several others.
Charlie Free is current fire chief and Harry Willis is assistant chief.
The department has six women firefighters.
“We just lost one good one, Harry’s wife Lori,” Armour said. “That tore us up pretty bad and we haven’t gotten over it yet.”
Lori Willis also kept up with the records.
The department dropped bingo in 1994.
Joe Winfield served as president of the board of directors for many years and most recently Willis has served in that capacity.
The all-volunteer force means that families have to sacrifice to serve - most all are employed.
The department is working to become a paid force, but that is somewhere in the future, Armour said. The department will first build bedrooms and baths upstairs.
“That’s all in the future,” Armour said.
After getting the new pumper in 2001, an ambulance service in Memphis donated one of its old units to the fire department to use as a rescue vehicle. The vehicle carries the jaws of life.
One of the medics who served with the ambulance service and who was also a firefighter secured the ambulance.
Another donation, a 1970 ladder truck, was secured by Winfield from his friend, Dr. Ballard in Collierville.
Ballard had the truck put on the auction block and didn’t get the offer he wanted.
He said, “I will just give it away,” and asked Winfield if Cayce could use it.
“The answer was yes,” Armour said.
Armour said Cayce is delighted to be first in getting a fire grading district designation, which will substantially lower homeowner insurance rates. The boundary is set so that every structure located within five road miles of the station is eligible for reduced rates. That includes most, but not all, of the fire district, Armour said.
Cayce turns out to assist other rural fire departments and covers calls in the Mt. Pleasant, Victoria and Barton areas.
Cayce answered about 470 calls last year. Most of those were first responder medical calls.
Barton and Cayce fire departments have also put on drills, one at Exel distribution center, to assure warehousing and industry that the departments cooperate to protect industrial and commercial properties as well as homes.
All six female firefighters are certified in Level One and four of the six have Level Two certification, Armour said.
“We’re proud of them,” he said. “We’ve worked hard.”
Cayce holds its fall fish-fry October 5 from 4:30 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. at the fire department located behind the 30 Lee Creek Road off Cayce Road. Fish will be cooked by Sheriff Kenny Dickerson and his staff with cole slaw, hush puppies and French fries. A variety of desserts provided by the women of Cayce will be served. Everyone is invited to attend. Tickets can be purchased in advance by contacting anyone with the fire department or at the door. Tickets are also on sale at Carol’s Beauty Shop on Cayce Road and Gossett Auto Parts and A 1 Small Engine on Highway 72. Patrons may eat in or take out.
All proceeds go to the Cayce Fire Department.
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