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Public hearing set for new Zetus fire district

A local volunteer fire department planning to create a new rated fire district in western Lincoln County will lay out its plan to the public next month.

The Lincoln County Board of Supervisors will host a public hearing Aug. 6 to allow interested citizens to weigh in on the Zetus Volunteer Fire Department’s plan to establish a new district surrounding much of the West Lincoln area. The hearing begins at 10 a.m.

“We’re wanting to help out our homeowners,” said Zetus VFD Chief Dale Anding. “The lower we drop our class rating, the more money homeowners will save on their insurance policies.”

The department’s new district will center on Station Two on Gum Grove Road and Station Three, just across the street from West Lincoln Attendance Center. It will extend roughly from Hwy. 84 to Bogue Chitto Road, and from Arlington Drive Southwest to the Franklin County line.

The department has already collected the 25 signatures state law requires to hold the public hearing. If the plan comes out of the August hearing without opposition, Zetus will be ready to call the Mississippi State Rating Bureau to audit its plan and set up a water-hauling test, which would determine the department’s preparedness and establish its ranking.

The MSRB ranks districts on a scale of 10 to one, Protection Class 10 being the least-prepared zone and Class 1 being the best and most rare. Many home insurers will offer policy-buyers a discount on fire protection policies commensurate with the rankings of the fire districts in which they live.

The new Zetus district could immediately start up as a Class 9, though Anding is hoping to hit Class 8 right off the bat.

“All three of our stations are up and running, have trucks and firefighters assigned to them and they’re responding to calls,” he said. “There’s been a lot of hard work from everybody in our department, and everything is falling into place to where we’re at this point and we’re ready.”

If Zetus gets the new district approved, it will be the sixth rated fire district in Lincoln County. The department already has one district rated as Protection Class 7, as does Bogue Chitto, Hog Chain and New Sight. Loyd Star VFD has a Protection Class 8 district, while East Lincoln and Heucks Retreat are Protection Class 10.

Clifford Galey, who serves as Lincoln County’s emergency management director and county fire coordinator, said all the volunteer fire departments are working hard toward improving their ratings, even though better ratings means decreased state funding.

“We’re kind of cutting our own throats, but we’re doing what we can for the people,” he said.