By NATHAN GREGORY
It took 45 minutes out of District 5 Fire Department members’ allotted hour to prove to Richard Watkins of the Mississippi Ratings Bureau that they had the equipment and the manpower to improve their fire rating from a 10 to an 8.
Oktibbeha County Fire Services Coordinator Kirk Rosenhan said there are only a few more housekeeping items to complete for MRB. After that, it should be just a few weeks before the department finds out if the improved rating will be given.
The benefits of an improved rating would mean significantly lower insurance premiums for Oktoc area residents in the near future, Rosenhan said.
Friday the department conducted a water shuttle evaluation, which Rosenhan says is the last and biggest step toward achieving the rating. With the assistance of equipment and trucks from East Oktibbeha Fire Department, District 5 showed it had the capability to pump 500 gallons of water per minute, which is one of several requirements to achieve the Class 8 rating.
“The other things involve records, the number of people that show up, our training and maintenance aspects, the distance you can cover (and) a number of other parameters but this is the … last thing we have to do,” Rosenhan said.
During the test, numerous trucks hauled the water in to a field where they dumped it into three storage tubs. Hoses and pipes run between the tubs and syphon the water to a unit which sprays the water in order to extinguish a blaze.
District 5 Fire Chief Terry Skinner said he was pleased with his team’s effective work during the shuttle test and hopes their efforts will result in savings for those the fire department serves.
“The moment insurance drops, it saves homeowners a lot of money in the process,” Skinner said. “That’s our main focus: to try to help the homeowners out and get their insurance rates down.”
Rosenhan said if approved for a Class 8 rating, Oktoc residents could see their rates decrease by one third of what they’re currently paying.
“This is a culmination of several years of effort between the county administration, board of supervisors and the members themselves,” he said. “It was a team effort.”