Zachary Fire Chief Danny Kimble announced Aug. 11 that the Zachary Fire Department has retained its Class 2 fire rating on all properties located inside Zachary city limits from the Property Insurance Association of Louisiana, which is in charge of assessing the effectiveness of fire departments in the state.
Properties located outside of the city limits but within East Baton Rouge Parish in Fire District 1 will continue to receive a Class 4 rating if a resident is located within seven road miles of a recognized fire station, Kimble said.
The PIAL issues ratings every five years based on credit points earned in the areas of fire, water supply and communications using the Public Protection Classification. Points range from 0 to 90 or higher.
Since the last rating, the ZFD improved from an 82 to 84.98 inside the city and from 66.5 to 68.83 outside.
“A fire rating and the process a department goes through to receive it is exactly like an audit,” said Kimble. “They look at everything, from equipment, trucks and training to files, 911 calls and policies in place.”
Points earned for communications are based on how a department receives and handles fire alarms, number of operators on duty, telephone and circuit systems used and number of calls.
The Fire Department section of the audit considers number of trucks, hoses and equipment carried to fire calls, pump capacity, ladder service, company personnel on duty, training facilities and fire prevention and control.
For the water supply, points are earned for main capacity and hydrant distribution, type of hydrants and method of installation, inspection and condition of hydrants, as well as frequency of hydrant inspections.
Inside city limits, Zachary earned 8.98 of 10 points for communications, 41.13 of 50 points for fire, and 36.84 of 40 in water supply.
Outside the city, the department earned a 9.28 of 10 in water, 33.20 of 50 in fire and 26.42 of 40 in water supply.
PIAL ratings directly affect insurance premiums for residents. The better the rating, the less you pay, Kimble said.
“The ZFD is unique in that it’s located in the dead center and can cover all of Fire District 1,” said Kimble. “But we can do better. I’m proud that we’ve improved but don’t want to settle for where we’re at. We’ve done really well, thanks to many different groups of people, including all the water companies in Baker, Zachary and Slaughter, Mayor Amrhein, his administration and the City Council, and all the career and volunteer firefighters on staff.”
In 2012, the Fire District 1 board voted to allow Zachary to collect all of the fire tax money in exchange for full coverage of the area, which includes all of the unincorporated areas surrounding Zachary, explained Kimble.
Previously, the coverage was split between Baker and Zachary departments, with the two sharing the revenue.
Fire District 1 generated $362,000 from 2014 to 2015 based on a 9.0 millage rate.
Board President Larry Powenski presented Kimble with a check Aug. 11, which goes into the city’s general fund, and then goes to the Fire Department.