By Press Reports
Often times during the night or day, volunteers with county fire departments drop what they are doing to respond to a fire, a wreck, or to assist in a medical emergency.
Many times these volunteers go unnoticed when they leave their families, jobs, or recreational activities to assist their fellow neighbor in need and most people fail to realize that the training, the hard work, and efforts of these volunteer fire departments can influence home insurance rates. The Mississippi State Rating Bureau provides statistical information about fire fighting capabilities and provides a rating class of the department which can often affect home insurance rates. The public fire protection insurance classification number is used as only one of several elements in developing some individual property fire insurance rates. (Individual property fire rates are also dependent upon specific construction, occupancy, private protection, and exposure from adjacent buildings.) With those insurance rates in mind, the Choctaw County Fire Services, along with the MS State Rating Bureau, and the supervisors of Choctaw County began approximately one year ago to evaluate the fire ratings within the confines of Choctaw County to help assist our residents in an effort to help lower the cost of homeowners insurance in a time when things seem to be on a steady incline.
Ratings are set by the Mississippi State Rating Bureau and are determined by a complex formula. Factors include the water supply available for fire fighting, the fire department (including number of personnel, training, and equipment), the communications system, and the existence of building and fire codes. Currently all locations in Choctaw County not in the Municipal Fire Department Districts (Ackerman, Weir, and French Camp) are rated Class 10c. (10 Certified)
On Tuesday February 18, 2014 the Bywy Volunteer Fire Department, under the direction of Chief Michael Holmes, and located in the northern area of Choctaw County put there water supply and water use skills to the test for a field rating representative from the MS Rating Bureau in an effort to meet the state standards required to drop the classification rating to a NINTH CLASS in the Bywy Fire District and thus helping homeowners of this district.
In a letter dated March 4, 2014 from the MS State Rating Bureau submitted to the County Fire Coordinator Chris Coleman, chief Michael Holmes, and the Choctaw County Fire Services, it was advised, “to the county and all citizens of the Bywy Fire District that effective February 24, 2014, the classification of the Bywy Fire Grading District, in Choctaw County, MS, is now eligible for NINTH CLASS rating. This public protection classification applies to eligible properties located within the legal boundaries of the Bywy District. Any insurance contracts covering dwellings located within this district may be endorsed from February 24, 2014, on a pro rata basis to take advantage of the current fire premiums indicated in the “Ninth Class Premium and Rate Table,” of the Mississippi Dwelling Manuel ”
“I want to commend Chief Michael Holmes, the Bywy Fire Department volunteers, the county board of supervisors, and the fire departments of Choctaw County and the local neighboring departments in our bordering counties that have bonded together and have shown an unbelievable willingness to work hand in hand and train together all for the betterment of their communities and the citizens in which they serve,” said Chris Coleman, “Insurance companies use these classification ranks and standards to weigh the fire peril.”
Coleman also noted that all the hard work by the volunteers was to benefit everyone in the entire county since the other county fire departments will now be following the same course of action through the state’s review process to lower their fire rating for their districts as well. “We already have a map and plan in place with the MS Rating Bureau and the county supervisors to continue to move throughout our county until each rural fire department district is lowered to a NINTH CLASS to cover all the residents of this place we call home. After the NINTH CLASS is achieved, then we will begin to work towards an EIGHTH CLASS in each district.” added Coleman, “Even though it takes small steps to fulfill our long term goal we will do what we can do to help each and every homeowner of Choctaw County.”
It’s important to note that even though a single district may benefit from the rating process, it’s a team effort from each department and volunteer throughout the area to make it all a reality for the entire county.
Coleman described the mutual aid process set up by the county, “If we get a call for a structure fire, it’s usually not just one department that responds. Added personnel and equipment from every department improves our fire fighting capability,” he said. “We have annual contracts in place within our county each year between the departments and our neighboring county departments to assist one another when the need arises. This was very evident during the grading process at Bywy because of the assistance they received from Simpson VFD, Union VFD, Reform VFD, Ackerman VFD, Mathiston VFD, and Eupora VFD. We would like to thank each of them and their volunteers for their assistance and for the hours spent each year training together to maintain the automatic aid agreements.”
“I would encourage each citizen of our county and our neighboring counties to rally behind these volunteers and our fire departments and show their appreciation for the work they are doing and the commitment they show to not only save lives and property, but also to help possibly lower insurance costs,” said Coleman.
For more information on fire department ratings visit: www.msratingbureau.com.