VINTON, LA (KPLC)
The reduction in rates comes after the Property Insurance Association of Louisiana (PIAL) conducted their grading of the fire department and gave the department a classification of Class 3. Before the 2012 grading period, the Vinton Fire Department had a grade of Class 4.
"I'm very proud of my firefighters. My officers and my firefighters... they've worked very hard to get this rating" said Vinton Fire Chief, Jerry Merchant.
The rating that Chief Merchant is talking about, a rating of Class 3 by the Property Insurance Association of Louisiana (PIAL). An assessment happens every five years, with representatives grading fire departments both professional and volunteer, in three categories.
"The three main areas are communication and that's 10%. Then there's the fire department section, that's 50% of the score and the remaining 40% comes down to the water supply" said Fire Department Ratings Consultant, Thomas Cassisa.
After scored, departments are classified from Class 1 to Class 10 with 1 being the most prepared and 10 being the worst. According to Merchant, there are almost 46,000 fire departments in the country and ratings of Class 5 and below are rare.
"We're lucky with the fact that we have been able to move to a Class 3" said Merchant. "That puts us in the top two percent of that 46,000".
So how exactly did the Vinton Fire Department improve to get this rating?
"We have rebuilt personnel, we have made changes in our training and some new equipment and we were able to bring it back up to Class 3" said Merchant.
One of the new improvements to the fire department, a $200,000 new truck loaded with over $100,000 of new equipment that will help the department better fight fires.
The jump in class isn't just a pat on the back for the fire department, it's a plus for Vinton homeowners too.
"Majority of the time each grade down from 10-9 some commercial and residential properties can see a savings on the fire portion of their homeowners or commercial fire insurance" Cassisa said.
"Thank goodness, thank goodness" said Vinton resident, Mary Soileau.
"I pay about $1500 a year for insurance and I'm sure the fire insurance is two to three hundred dollars.
New insurance premium rates will be effective beginning August 6, 2012. To find out how much your rates have been reduced, Cassisa urges Vinton homeowners to contact their insurance providers.