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County annexes more land into Central Grading Fire District

Another portion of Lafayette County was approved for annexation into the Central Grading Fire District, following a public hearing during Monday’s meeting of the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors.

The area, which surrounds the newly opened Lafayette County Fire Department Station 17, will extend five miles east of the station, north to the current Central District border, south to the current Yocona District border and west to the city limits. Fire Coordinator Wes Anderson said the annexation has been months in the making.

“We started this process several months ago by annexing two other areas in the Central Grading Fire District,” Anderson said. “This particular area was put on hold, because it didn’t have a fire station within the appropriate mileage. So we had to wait until the new fire station, Station 17, was opened.”

The biggest benefit, he added, is the potential for lower fire insurance rates for homeowners. While the fire department and board of supervisors cannot make any guarantees of lower rates and premiums, Anderson said he could confidently guarantee more fire protection for residents.

Fire insurance grading classifications are determined by the Mississippi State Rating Bureau, with Class 1 being the best and Class 10 being the worst in terms of fire insurance rate expenses. According to Anderson, the highest classification in the state is a Class 2 district located in Gulfport. In Lafayette County, the City of Oxford falls into Class 4, and the rest of the county averages out at Class 7. Until the annexation of this latest portion of the county is official, it will be considered a Class 10.

About 50 percent of the rating comes from the evaluation of the fire department’s overall efficiency, which includes the adequacy of equipment, sufficient staffing, evaluation of training, existence of automatic aid and geographic distribution.

Approximately 40 percent is based on water supply, including condition and maintenance of hydrants and the amount of available water, volume and pressure, compared with the amount needed to suppress fires.

Ten percent of the rating comes from communications, such as the 911 system, adequacy of phone lines, operator supervision, staffing and dispatching hardware and software systems.

District 1 Supervisor Kevin Frye said in Monday morning’s meeting that, because he lives in the area to be annexed, he had even reached out to his insurance provider to discover potential savings.

“This is very significant. It will impact people’s insurance, potentially, by hundreds of dollars. It’s a big deal to change their rating from a 10 to a 7,” Frye said. “I’ve checked the insurance of my own house, which is in this area, and it’s going to impact mine, it’ll impact a lot of folks. It’s something we should be excited about.”

While the annexation of land into the Central Grading Fire District was approved during Monday’s meeting, Anderson said the act will not be official to the supervisors’ Aug. 6 meeting, when the minutes from the previous meeting are approved. As soon as they approve those minutes and sign the order, Anderson said he will mail the information to the rating bureau, who will officially recognize the annexation.