City residents, businesses to benefit from lower fire class

Cairo Fire Chief Jim Fielding surprised city councilmen Monday night with the good news that the city’s fire protection classification dropped from a Class 4 to a Class 3.
The Insurance Services Office surveys local fire departments to set a fire protection classification that is used by insurance companies when setting rates for fire insurance.
“We began working to prepare for this inspection more than a year ago. It took us over a year to prepare, and the survey was done in November and we received the report over the Christmas holidays. My men don’t even know the results yet. I wanted to share it with you all first,” Fire Chief Fielding said.
According to Fielding, the city’s improved rating of Class 3 will make the city more attractive to prospective new industry.
“The most savings on fire insurance will go to industries. The lower the class, the lower the fire rates for new and existing industry,” Chief Fielding said.
Residential fire insurance rate payers will also likely see savings on their insurance, but the fire chief said that insurance officials cannot say just how much
“It used to be about a 20 percent saving, but now the insurance companies can’t give you a figure on how much it will save,” Chief Fielding said.
“I’m really proud of my guys. They really busted it for over a year, and before the ISO inspectors came they were working 12 hours a day to get everything done,” the fire chief said.
Chief Fielding said that Moultrie was “fighting” to maintain a Class 3 rating and he noted that Thomasville had achieved a Class 2 rating, both of which he pointed out are larger fire departments.
Fielding is not only pleased with the Class 3 rating, but he also told city councilmen Monday night that is exactly where the city should be. He said the only way to achieve a lower classification would be to add another engine company, which would mean the hiring of a minimum of three additional employees, which is a cost the fire chief believes is not necessary.
“The savings do not justify the additional cost,” Chief Fielding said.
Councilman Bobby Gwaltney asked the fire chief if insurance companies were already using the new classification when charging for fire insurance.
“Local residents can call and ask, but it will probably take three to six months for the change to get in their computers. I would contact my insurance company and let them know about the change,” Chief Fielding said.
“This Class 3 rating is a real credit to Chief Fielding and his department. I think it is outstanding,” Cairo City Manager Chris Addleton said.
The Grady County Volunteer Fire Department also recently underwent an ISO inspection and was successful in maintaining a Class 6/9 rating. According to county officials, the Grady County VFD was very close to earning a Class 5/9.

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