West Feliciana Parish property insurance rates should decrease, thanks to a decrease in the Fire Protection District No. 1’s rating from Class 5 to Class 4.

Fire Chief James Wood made the announcement after receiving notification from the Property Insurance Association of Louisiana, which evaluates fire departments every five years on a 100-point scale.

Fire Protection District No. 1 covers all areas of West Feliciana Parish outside the Town of St. Francisville. The previous rating was obtained 15 years ago

“It’s the best rating we’ve ever had,” Wood said. “The bottom line is this validates the efforts of the fire department staff and volunteers to provide a certain quality of service over a lot of years. It means we have the ability to respond to emergencies better and extinguish them.”

The more points a department earns, the better the fire rating classification. In 2010, the Fire Protection District earned 57.12 points. The rating improved to 66.38 after the PIAL officials spent a week in September evaluating the FPD on three criteria: communications, fire department operations and water supply.

Woods said West Feliciana worked diligently to improve the rating by reorganizing personnel, revamping the training program, adding staff, expanding fire prevention and community risk re-education activities, adding two fire stations and improving the fleet of fire apparatuses.

Operations, worth 50 percent of the score, received a 30.09. Water supply, 40 percent of the score, earned a 28.91. Communications, 10 percent of the score, earned 9.80. Some points were deducted for minor penalties.

“I’m happy with where we landed at, and it leaves us room for improvement,” said Wood, who became chief in February 2010. “I’m also happy with what we’ve been able to achieve. All of this was done without raising taxes or cutting services.”

The new rating will go into effect Jan. 11 and will mean residential and commercial property owners should be eligible for a reduction in their fire insurance premiums.

“This wasn’t done overnight; it’s taken five years,” Woods added. “The reduction was not possible without the hard work and dedication of many people, including volunteers, full- and part-time staff, past and present members of the Fire Board of Commissioners, the West Feliciana Water District, West Feliciana 911 District & Sheriff’s Office, the parish president and parish council, especially Mel Young and Mel Percy. I hope the people are happy and recognize the significance of this.”