GONZALES — Homeowners on Ascension Parish’s unincorporated west bank can expect “significant” reductions in their fire insurance premiums early next month, state insurance officials said.

The Property Insurance Association of Louisiana lowered the fire rating by one class for areas outside Donaldsonville after a survey in July, the west bank’s fire chief said Friday.

State insurance officials announced that that a $150,000 home could see a premium decrease of $93 to about $1,337 annually.

That’s about a 6.5 percent drop.

State insurance officials said the rate reduction takes effect Oct. 10, though premium reductions could vary with the value of property and other factors.

Fire Chief Chuck Montero, of Ascension Parish Fire Protection District No. 2, credited water system upgrades by the Ascension Consolidated Utilities District No. 1 for playing a big part in the rating improvement.

Earlier this year, the district, which is funded with a 10-mill property tax and user fees, finished nearly $5 million in upgrades.

“They really did make the difference,” Montero said.

Commissioner of Insurance Jim Donelon commended the efforts of parish officials and firefighters.

“Your efforts to make your property safer have brought about the lowering of your fire protection grading, which results in lower insurance rates on your homes and other property,” Donelon said in the statement.

Chief Montero said he received the new rating results last week. He said the last rating was conducted in 2006.

That is the same year voters approved the 10-mill tax supporting the utilities district.

PIAL is a nonprofit association of insurance companies writing fire insurance in Louisiana.

The group’s ratings surveys analyze three main areas, PIAL said: how fire alarms are received and handled; fire departments; and water supply.

The PIAL rating schedule ranges from 1 to 10, with Class 1 being the best protection and Class 10 representing no recognized fire protection.

The ratings are used to determine property insurance rates.

Unincorporated areas on Ascension’s west bank saw a decrease from a Class 5 to a Class 4 under the latest survey, Montero said.

The city of Donaldsonville’s rating remained a Class 4, Montero said, and its residents will not see a decrease in premiums.

Fire District No. 2 has both a partial paid force and contracts with the city of Donaldsonville to provide additional fire protection, Montero said. The district is also funded with a small share of a half-cent parish sales tax.

The utility district improvements include new water towers and an expanded system of water lines.

The work was funded with bonds issued by the district, a state Department of Health and Hospitals loan defrayed, in part, with federal stimulus dollars and a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant that parish government helped acquire, district officials have said.