Two volunteer fire departments receive better ratings

Published 7:00 am Friday, May 19, 2017

Two Pearl River County volunteer fire departments recently received better ratings from the Mississippi State Rating Bureau.
McNeill Volunteer Fire Department moved from a rating of eight to seven, said Fire Chief Donny Leonard. Pearl River County Emergency Management Director Danny Manley said Amackertown Volunteer Fire Department also improved by one rating, from nine to eight.
The Bureau rates fire departments through an audit that reviews the station, equipment and a number of other factors. Ratings start at 10 as the highest rating and end with one being the lowest. The lower the rating, the better the department, and better the fire insurance discount to homeowners, according to the Bureau.
Leonard said a good score during the audit is essential to getting a better rating. The audit checks the department’s paperwork, trucks and equipment, training record and the availability of hydrants or access to bodies of water within that department’s fire district.
When a fire hydrant is not available, then access to a body of water will suffice. Leonard said there are several creeks and ponds the department has access to, in addition to hydrants.
“We got to rely on both of them really,” Leonard said.
The strong working relationship between all departments in the county has also been beneficial when responding to calls. Leonard said that when a neighboring department, such as Carriere Volunteer Fire Department, has a call, McNeill doesn’t ask if they need help, they just provide assistance.
“We all may have different names on the doors of our trucks, but when it comes down to it, we’re all one department,” Leonard said.
“I’d like to remind everyone that they do this for no pay,” Manley said. “They are the best of the best in Pearl River County.”
The lower ratings will mean homeowners in those fire districts will see a lower premium on their fire insurance policies. Leonard said he can’t say how much the discount will be. He suggested checking with the insurance policy provider.
Other changes in the McNeill department will entail obtaining a new fire truck. The addition of the new truck will mean the department will have two trucks capable of carrying 1,000 gallons of water to calls. It will replace a smaller truck with a 300-gallon capacity, which was sold recently.
The next project McNeill Fire Department is working on is finding a sponsor for the annual Fourth of July fireworks show. Leonard said it’s the biggest fundraiser for the department, but recently it’s been harder to raise money before and after the event. He said it typically costs the department between $1,600 to $2,000 to buy the fireworks and the last couple of times the department essentially broke even. But, if a sponsor could be found to cover the cost of the fireworks, the boot shake held after the show would provide some income to help defer the cost of running the department. Leonard said it typically costs about $5,000 to outfit just one volunteer firefighter.
Anyone interested in sponsoring the fireworks can call Leonard at 601-590-4632.

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