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Zetus Volunteer Fire Department trying for new fire rating

Zetus Volunteer Fire Department is trying to establish a rated fire district for its second and third stations in the West Lincoln area, and local homeowners’ insurance costs could drop if the plan succeeds.

Chief Dale Anding appeared before the Lincoln County Board of Supervisors Monday to present signed petitions, maps and other data to support his request that supervisors pass a resolution calling for a public hearing to establish the district, a move that would invite the Mississippi State Rating Bureau to test and grade the area.

“The people in the community are wanting the grading district, and we’ve been working on this for years,” Anding said. “I have information back to 2012 and further.”

The MSRB rates fire districts on a scale of one through 10, with 10 being the lowest or least-prepared to deal with fires and one being top-notch. Lower classifications can result in decreased home insurance premiums for homeowners living in the graded district.

Most Lincoln County volunteer fire departments are rated between eight and 10. Zetus’ main station on Watts Road is a Class 7, and since the second and third stations on Gum Grove Road and West Lincoln Drive, respectively, are not in a rated district, both are rated Class 10.

The MSRB requires rated districts to be legally-defined — hence the involvement of county supervisors and a public hearing — and have at least four firefighters responding to initial alarms on structure fires. Departments are also required to have at least one pumper truck that meets National Fire Protection Association standards, properly house vehicles and equipment and maintain detailed records of training, testing, maintenance and responses to structure fires.

Anding said Zetus has all the data necessary to bring on an MSRB test. In such a test, ratings officials would oversee a water pump test, in which Zetus must sustain pumping at certain pressures for one hour. Since the West Lincoln area where the rated district would be established has no fire hydrants, other volunteer departments would be allowed to assist Zetus by hauling water to participate in the test.

“On our end, everything is there and ready,” Anding said. “We’ve got all our paperwork that plays a part in the points system. Station Two has two trucks and Station Three has one — both are up and running and responding to calls, and both have firefighters assigned to them.”

After Anding’s request, the board tabled the matter and instructed attorney Bob Allen to review the procedures needed for holding the public hearing. Allen and Anding were already working on details Monday afternoon.

“Let’s handle that pretty quick. They’ve been struggling with it for a long time,” said District 5 Supervisor Doug Falvey.