Rates lowered in new county fire districts

Published 12:00 pm Wednesday, October 21, 2015

More county homeowners can expect their insurance premiums to decrease, thanks to the Mississippi Fire Rating Bureau lowering the fire rating in six more fire grading districts in Lafayette County.

And more fire personnel will help protect the county after the board of supervisors approved hiring two more part-time firefighters during their meeting Monday evening.

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Lafayette County fire coordinator Jerry Johnson reported to the supervisors that he has received written confirmation that the fire rating has been lowered in the six districts from a ten to a nine.

“Residents inside those districts will receive a reduction in insurance if they are truly paying a class ten rating. We’re real proud of that,” Johnson told the board. He added that an insurance agent told him lowering the rating by one could mean a 28 percent reduction in a homeowner’s premium.

“That’s taking care of a big chunk of Lafayette County,” Johnson said.

In July, supervisors approved creating fire grading districts in the communities of Abbeville, Harmontown, Lafayette Springs, Paris, Philadelphia and Tula.

A fire grading district is different from a fire district in that a “fire district itself has the capability of levying taxes. A grading district is for the commissioners of that district or supervisors,” Johnson said. “They do not have any ability to levy taxes but the board of supervisors does for fire protection.”

Johnson explained in July the grading has allowed “us to lower the rating and insurance cost within five miles of each fire station.”

This process has been ongoing for some time, according to Johnson.

With this lower rating, Johnson said estimated 10 to 15 percent of the county is not covered by a fire grading district.

“We’ve been working towards this for two or three years to get every thing in line,” Johnson said in July of creating the new districts and lowering the rating.

Johnson added that each insurance agent in Lafayette County should receive a copy of the new rating from the fire rating bureau.

“If not, they can contact me and I will make contact with their insurance agent and fax them or email them a copy of the map where it says they area class nine,” Johnson said.

Meanwhile, the supervisors approved hiring Samuel Hollowell and Gary Atkinson as part-time firemen.

Currently, there are three paid firefighters in the county who work five days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 a.m.

Prior to the fiscal budget being approved, the county fire department requested the supervisors hire more full-time firefighters to supplement the volunteer firemen at an estimated cost of $200,000. The supervisors did approve a budget increase for the county fire department, but the funds were used to purchase equipment.