HED:Dale notes ways to lower fire ratings

By Eileen Bailey

Daily Journal

AMORY - Defining district lines is one of the ways several rural fire districts in Monroe County can reduce their fire ratings, the state insurance commissioner said Wednesday.

George Dale, who has held the position for 21 years, spoke before the Amory Kiwanis Club, members of city and volunteer fire departments and insurance company personnel about the county's fire ratings.

Both city and volunteer fire departments are rated on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best. For example, Jackson has a fire rating of 3. Tupelo is rated a 5.

Of the county's 15 fire departments, Aberdeen and Amory are both rated 6. Two Monroe County volunteer fire departments - Hatley and Smithville - are rated 8. One Monroe County volunteer fire department holds a rating of 9. The other 10 departments all have a 10 rating.

One of the Class 10 ratings is Hamilton, Dale said.

"Our office is working with them to lower their rating by developing district lines. When it is complete, their rating could drop to an 8," he said.

In addition to district boundaries, fire departments also are rated on equipment, training of volunteers and water supply.

Decreasing the class rating means a savings to home owners on insurance costs. For example, if a department goes from a 10 rating to a 9 rating, there could be a 16 percent savings to home owners, Dale said. If the rate drops from a 10 to an 8, there would be a 30 percent savings.

Monroe County coordinator Bo Hill, who was appointed to the position left vacant by the death of state Rep. Jerome Huskey, said there is a new push by most of the volunteer fire departments to drop their ratings.

They also continue their efforts to provide training for fire department volunteers. Most of the training is done at the local level. Each volunteer firefighter must have 38 hours of training.

Staub Halbert of The MarketPlace for Insurance in Amory said the reduced rates will help provide better insurance coverage.

"As agents we want to see our clients have the best coverage they can get," he said.

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