County Fire and Rescue makes push for lower insurance rates

Published 11:05 pm Monday, January 19, 2009

County residents may be on their way to seeing lower homeowner insurance rates if the Marengo County Fire and Rescue Squad has its way.

The squad has purchased two emergency vehicles, a tanker truck and a pumper truck in an attempt to earn a higher rating.

Assistant chief Carey Mills and Captain Glyn Trotman returned this weekend from LaFayette, N.Y., with a 1982 Pierce Arrow pumper truck.

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The pumper holds 1,000 gallons of water and the tanker holds 1,250. That puts the squad very close to being able to reduce the insurance rates throughout the county.

The squad now has seven emergency response vehicles for fire and medical emergencies.

Currently, the county falls under a class 9, with Linden and Demopolis under a class 5. The lower the rating the lower insurance rates will be. Most rural departments fall into the class 9 category.

While higher class categories do not necessarily indicate poor service, a lower class rating suggests a department is overall better equipped to respond to fires in its district.

“We are trying to get the equipment we need,” said Mills. “We just applied for a homeland security grant. We don’t know if we will get it our not, but if we do that would mean a new truck and all the additional equipment we would need to bring the county down to a class 5.”

Mills has been with the rescue squad for almost six months. He has worked for the past ten years with the United States Department of Defense.

The ratings are dependent on such factors as proper staffing levels, sufficient equipment, and proper maintenance of equipment, communications capabilities and availability of water sources.

Mills said the squad will be inspected sometime this year to determine what rating the county will receive.

“They will also look at water supply. How much water can you bring to a fire call,” he said. “They will check our fire hydrants, and Marengo County does not have a lot of fire hydrants. We are about at 46% for the county. I think if we had one more truck that would help a lot.”

The squad is also trying to add volunteer ambulance service for the county.

Mills says he has found an ambulance the squad would like the county to buy for $10,000.

“We can be up and ready as soon as we get help from the commissioners. We can go ahead and put it effect,” said Mills, who is a firefighter paramedic. “The medical response situation in this county is dire need of help.”

Last year the Marengo County Fire and Rescue Squad responded to 268 calls in the county.

“This includes 150 medical runs. Seventeen of these runs were chest pains and 10 of these were heart attacks and one person that died while waiting on an ambulance,” said Mills. “Last year we had a total of 17 hours waiting on an ambulance to arrive on the scene.”

Mills added that EMT training needed for ambulance personal would be offered to volunteer fire departments throughout the county this spring.

“We are setting the bar higher for us to be better,” said Mills.