Vidalia slightly improves fire rating

Published 12:02 am Thursday, July 16, 2015

VIDALIA — Vidalia officials have said they will work on a long-term plan to address any issues that might cause the city’s fire rating to go up in the future.

Vidalia Fire Chief Johnny Evans said he has been meeting with the company that issues the fire rating for the cities, and the city is currently maintaining its rating as a three on a 10-point scale with one being the best and 10 being the worst.

The ratings are used by insurance companies to set insurance rates, and are based in an inspection of the city’s fire department training, equipment, the number of businesses and homes they protect, among other things.

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The city’s current rating, a three,  is the same as the last time the city was rated — but it’s also better.

“It’s like in school where everything from 90 to 100 was an A, 80 to 90 was a B,” Evans said. “It’s a range. We were close to being a four last time, but this time with our score we made it to where we were a little better of a three.”

The city will be reviewed for fire rating again in five years.

The more complicated news is that in 2017 the way things are rated will change. Currently, maintaining a three rating doesn’t require that the city own a ladder truck because the city doesn’t have any buildings taller than three stories.

When the change comes in 2017, however, the requirement for a ladder truck will not be based on the height of a building but its total square footage, Evans said.

“They are stating that we (will) need a ladder truck,” he said.

“Coming into 2020 when they grade us again, it will not be a three if we stay the same, and the only thing that will be able to keep us from that happening will be a ladder truck.”

Evans said the requirement for a ladder truck also comes with the requirement for more firefighters.

“We will need the guys, because if you don’t have enough guys, you don’t get the credit for the ladder truck,” he said.

Mayor Hyram Copeland said the city will not allow its fire rating to drop.

“We have a few years to work on it,” he said.