Annexed homes under lower fire rating

Published 3:32 pm Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Homes that were annexed into the city limits of Picayune will now have a lower fire rating, meaning they will save money on fire insurance premiums.

A previous story in the Picayune Item covering the most recent city council meeting incorrectly stated the fire department’s rating was decreasing from a class 8 to a class 6. The Picayune Fire Department has been a class 6 department since the last time it was rated by the Mississippi State Rating Bureau in 2008, Fire Chief Keith Brown said.

The announcement at the council meeting was to alert people who were part of the recent annexation into the city limits that they now fall under the city’s fire rating. Previously they were under the volunteer fire department’s rating of a class 8.

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Fire Chief Keith Brown said the newly annexed homes, not businesses, would benefit from a savings of about $518 in insurance premiums for a frame home worth about $100,000. A home with masonry construction worth the same amount would save about $218 per year.

“Hopefully that will offset any increase in (ad valorem) taxes they have,” Brown said.

Most insurance companies are aware of homes that have been annexed, but Brown said if any homeowner needs  a letter of annexation confirmation from the Fire Department, the department will be more than willing to help. All the homeowner needs to do is to contact the department at 601-798-6513.

Fire departments are rated by the Rating Bureau on a scale of 100 points, of which 39 percent is based on the municipality’s water system, which includes the city’s hydrants, their flow and the pressure the system can deliver. Another 39 percent is based on the department’s personnel, equipment, response times, the Fire Marshal’s office, staff training, run reports and what kind of equipment is carried in each fire truck.

“So all across the board it’s pretty in depth,” Brown said.

Nine percent of the rating comes from the department’s communications, dispatch center and policy and procedures. The remaining 13 percent comes from the department’s fire and building codes and the city’s building code department, Brown said.

Departments are rated every four to five years, so Brown thinks his department will be rated again soon. In 2008, the department was about 200 points shy of earning a class 5 rating, and he hopes during the next review the department will achieve a rating of 5.

Brown said the ratings only apply to residential buildings, since commercial buildings are rated individually by the bureau.

Homes that were recently annexed into the city limits should keep in mind they will now be covered by a department that is staffed all day, everyday. Also, since those homes are now within the city limits, homeowners will need to apply for burn permits prior to conducting any kind of debris burning to ensure weather conditions are optimal and that the fire department is aware of the burning.