JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Volunteer fire departments in east Jackson County spent the last few years focused on three key areas: better equipment, faster response times, and improved training. It's now paying off in the form of lower fire protection ratings.
"My whole department has worked to where their fingers bled to get to where they're at and it's all for the community," said Escatawpa Fire Chief Donnie Lowry.
The departments are rated on a scale of one to ten with one being the best. Better ratings not only mean safer conditions for the communities these departments serve, but will also result in lower insurance rates for property owners.
"Basically what we're looking at in these three areas, two of them went from a class eight to a class seven, which will primarily affect commercial insurance," said Jackson County Emergency Services Director Earl Etheridge.
That's for the Northeast Fire Department and the Fort Lake, Franklin Creek, Forest Lake fire departments.
"Overall, it means by us doing what we're suppose to, we're giving back to the community," said Northeast Fire Chief Jeremy Snelgrove.
Etheridge said commercial rates should go down between five and 15 percent, depending on the insurance provider. There will also be a drop in homeowners' rates as well.
"Escatawpa went from an eight to a six, which is a big drop. You're probably looking at ten to 15 percent on homeowners' fire insurance," Etheridge said.
But Lowry wants residents to know that savings may take a while to show up on their bills.
"It's important to note that you won't see it until renewal or if you buy a new home," Lowry said.
The chiefs from each department say it's been a team effort getting this far.
"By training together and working together it makes it easy for us to give better service to the community and the county as a whole," Forts Lake/Franklin Creek Fire Chief Douglas Winters said.
The next ratings survey won't be for a few years, but the departments say they already have a game plan to improve even further.
To check on the fire insurance rating where you live, call (601) 981-29-15.