Thursday, November 24, 2011
Barton attains Level 8 fire rating
By SUE WATSON
Four years of hard work getting manpower up and paperwork filed have resulted in a Level 8 fire rating for the Barton Fire Grading District.
The Level 8 applies to everything within the five-road mile distance of the fire station, fire chief Buck Culver said.
A Level 8 fire insurance rating will mean a possible 30 percent to 40 percent drop in homeowner insurance rates in the grading district, he said. Homeowners should call their insurance agents to ask for rate reductions if their policy allows it.
Barton Fire Department is the second rural station in the county, following the lead of Cayce Fire Department, to obtain a new fire rating.
Barton’s fire grading district includes everything from Coldwater Bottom on Highway 309 North to the state line, and begins in the west at the Marshall/DeSoto County line and goes east to border with Cayce’s district just west of Barringer Road, Culver said.
“Anybody in that area goes to a Level 8,” he said.
Those whose residences are outside the five-road mile radius to the Barton Fire Station will not be included, but Barton Fire Department will go to work to get that area to a Level 9, he said. As a level goes down in numerical value, the fire department has to work harder to get new gradings for better insurance rates.
The area south of the Coldwater River Bottom on 309 to the Marshall County substation and also to Deer Creek is currently a Level 10.
Culver said the new grading district was attained everywhere in the district where water hydrants are located. Barton, Cayce and Byhalia will have to pass a water shuttle test, where tankers hook to a water supply at hydrants and shuttle back, in order to apply for a Level 9 in the area outside the five-road-mile radius in its district.
“This is something all of us have worked on for many years,” Culver said. “Our only issue was manpower. We had to average six to eight firefighters to a fire to get to a Level 8. Our group has done a great job. Hopefully we will be able to get everybody else in our district down to a Level 9 soon.”
Barton did not have to buy more equipment to apply for a new grading district, Culver said. The department now stands at 17 all-volunteer firefighters. The department averages 250 calls a year.
Harry Willis, assistant fire chief and president of the board at the Cayce Fire Department, is excited about Barton’s successful bid for a new fire grading district and delighted Cayce was able to be the first county fire department to apply for and to attain a Level 8.
He said the primary fire grading district is contained within five-road-miles from the station. The total response area of the district includes that five-road-miles area and what’s left outside to the district boundary.
Cayce’s district includes all of the Chickasaw Trail Industrial Park at a Level 8. A couple of areas remain a Level 10 – down North Red Banks Road and off Kings Mountain off Highway 72, he said. It attained its new level about three years ago and the ideal is to eventually get all county fire departments to a Level 8, he said.
He said some people in Cayce Fire District got new insurance rates but insurance companies typically do not recognize mobile homes for the insurance rate reduction. And Cayce has lots of mobile homes compared to the more expensive homes in the Barton area, he said, that may see savings of hundreds of dollars in premiums a year.
Typically there is a 30 percent reduction in premium going from a Level 10 to a Level 8, he said. Mississippi Insurance Rating Bureau assigns the numbers to the fire districts, he said, based upon the number of calls taken a year, the number of firefighters who turn out, the water supply, training, personnel and equipment.
“Cayce got the ball rolling and has always been a strong volunteer fire department,” Willis said. “We must always try and stay ahead of the growth (new businesses, industry, homes).”
He added that the new ratings will help the county attract more manufacturing, business and industrial companies.
He said residents in the Barton Primary Fire Grading District will benefit most because new zoning regulations have allowed the area to be a mostly residential community with large house lots and fewer mobile homes.
“We’re going to end up more of an industrial area – 99 percent of the industrial park is in our area and the growth that will come with I-269. Oh, my goodness!”
Willis urges other fire departments to work on their grading district.
“Who is ready for the ‘challenge’ to be the next department to apply for a lower fire rating?” he asked. “Your community will benefit greatly from it.”
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