GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The City of Gulfport is celebrating a major first, a Class 2 fire rating. That rating comes with some bragging rights.
"We are proud to announce to our citizens that we have been the first department ever in the history of our state to earn a fire protection classification of a two," said Gulfport Fire Chief Mike Beyerstedt.
The rating is good news for Gulfport businesses and residents, who will now be eligible to receive the lowest insurance premiums available in the state. That can be a big help to draw in future developers.
"What this means for your community is this - you can have more economic development, you have more rates for your commercial development in this city, due to the leadership that you have," said state insurance commissioner Mike Chaney.
During a press conference on the steps of city hall Tuesday, Beyerstedt said it took professionalism, hard work and dedication to earn the highest fire rating in the state.
"It's been our goal for the last three years, and we've attained that having gone through our most recent review over the last several months with the Mississippi state rating bureau," he said.
Beyerstedt said the secret was going the extra mile. His department implemented things like smoke alarm and home safety inspections for residents, and risk assessments for commercial properties and multifamily housing.
He also called it a team effort, crediting other departments like the GIS department and dispatchers."When we're in route to a fire, they're telling us how much water we have available to fight this fire before we even get there, so they're allowing us to work not only harder, but smarter," he said.
City officials called the accomplishment historic."Gulfport is setting the standard and we strive every single day, and our departments are reflective of that strive for excellence," said Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes.
This Class 2 rating puts the Gulfport fire department in the top two percent of fire departments in the country.