Fire rating upgrade could save money

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 8, 2001

VIDALIA, La. – Don Turner doesn’t think the more than $600 he pays each year for fire insurance on his Azalea Street house is exorbitantly high as it is. But he’s certainly not complaining about a possible decrease in that rate, either. &uot;I’m all for it,&uot; Turner said, referring to a cut in insurance costs that could result from a recent upgrade of Vidalia’s fire rating.

On Tuesday the Vidalia Fire Department learned that the Property Insurance Association of Louisiana had upgraded its fire rating from 4 to 3 due to the addition of a new fire truck.

The new rating will be effective in April, said Fire Chief Jack Langston.

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That upgrade could result in insurance savings of more than 5 percent for a $100,000 brick house and more than 7 percent for a $100,000 wood-frame house, said Jack Reed of Reed Insurance.

Langston said that four different insurance companies recently told him such a change could save homeowners in Vidalia 10 to 15 percent off their fire insurance costs.

The fire department just missed having its rating upgraded from 4 to 3 last year but was rerated once it purchased a new fire truck late last year.

&uot;By getting the new truck, we were able to take another truck we had and equip it to be a service truck,&uot; Langston said.

Service trucks include additional equipment, such as tarpaulins and self-contained breathing equipment, and accompany regular fire trucks to fire scenes.

&uot;And that gave us the added points needed to bring us from a 4 to a 3,&uot; Langston said.

Vidalia has had a 4 rating since 1994.

Property Insurance Association officials rate a department based on such things as training records, facilities and equipment.

The new truck was also needed because the department’s two other fire trucks are 30 and 15 years old, respectively.