New fire ratings could mean big savings

 Toby Sandford with the Golden Triangle Planning and Development District goes over maps for the county's fire rating districts with supervisors Thursday.
Staff Writer

A 90-square-mile area covering about 4,500 people could be in line for property insurance reductions of 10 to 30 percent by this summer.

Clay County supervisors Thursday approved the official boundaries for the new Palo Alto-Una fire rating district and the paperwork needed to get the state Rating Bureau to visit. The area currently has a 10 rating -- the lowest possible -- and county leaders hope the better-defined area, equipment, and training will get it to at least a 9 and possibly an 8.

An 8 rating could mean as much as a 30 percent drop in property insurance rates. On a $500 insurance premium, that could be a savings of as much as $150 a year.

"We've got the departments, we've got the trucks, we do the nine hours of training per quarter. We've just got to get the formal application filed," County Fire Coordinator B.J. McClenton said.

The area includes along the line with Chickasaw County on the north, roughly down CMC Line Road on the east, just west of Bud Thompson Road on the west with south lines near Dean and Harper roads.

The area has two fire stations, one in Una and one in Palo Alto. The Una station is near the intersection of Randle and Brand-Una roads and the Palo Alto one is on Highway 47 near Amos Road.
The supervisors started the process of setting up the new rating district last March.

A small area in the eastern part of the county along the Tombigbee River also may be in line for improved fire service.

McClenton said if the county can get a new pumper truck and make modifications to the District 1 County Barn on Barton Ferry Road just off Highway 50, it may be able to get a fire rating for the area.
"Just tell me what we need to do and we'll get on it," District 1 Supervisor Lynn Horton, who represents the area, told McClenton.

Besides making the county barn accessible to volunteer firefighters, the big issue may be the pumper truck, McClenton said, noting a tanker might not be enough to get the Rating Bureau to sign off on a rating number. The area is along Sandyland Road south of the Barton Ferry Recreation Area.