The Monroe Fire Department is spending millions to add new fire trucks, better equipment and improve communication in hopes of keeping its Class 1 fire rating when recertification rolls around in 2016.
The News-Star reports the department plans to spend more than $3 million to purchase new safety equipment, two pumpers, one rescue truck, one aerial truck and establish a new communication center.
The fire department will be re-evaluated by the Property Insurance Association of Louisiana in 2016, and city officials have said maintaining its Class 1 fire rating could prove difficult. During MFD’s last evaluation, it received a 90.5. In order to possess a Class 1 fire rating, fire departments must score a 90 or higher.
The fire department is rated every five years. Fire departments are graded on the availability of water within the city, its equipment, personnel and other firefighting capabilities. Inspectors also look at the types of property and ability to respond to fires.
City officials say the class 1 rating has saved residents and businesses millions since 2002.
Harvey Hales, who owns a Shelter Insurance agency in Monroe, said the city has been fortunate to have its Class 1 fire rating for more than a decade.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, 30,125 fire departments are in the United States and fewer than 50 can claim a Class 1 fire rating.
For a $200,000 home in the city limits of Monroe, insurance is $1,050 under a Class 1 rating. If Monroe falls to a Class 2 rating, the premium would increase to $1,069 under Shelter Insurance’s rates.
“If we lose that Class 1 rating all types of insured property would increase. While it’s not a huge amount for any one person, multiply that by everyone paying year after year and think of the dollars leaving Monroe and going to an insurance company that’s probably in another state,” Hales said. “The overall dollar impact would be huge, so having this Class 1 rating is very important. We are lucky to have it.”
Chief Terry Williams said standards have recently changed for the self-contained breathing apparatus firefighters wear, and the Property Insurance Association of Louisiana will require the fire department to have up-to-date equipment.
The department will advertise for bids to purchase new self-contained breathing apparatus at a cost of $275,000.