Fire grant to keep costs low

Published 10:40 pm Monday, August 17, 2009

As the city of Troy has grown through the years, so grows the need for more safety personnel.

But it’s not just for safety — it’s also for residents’ pocketbooks.

Troy Fire Chief Thomas Outlaw said the number of firefighters directly impacts the city’s Insurance Service Office (ISO) ratings, which determine how high premiums are on homeowner’s insurance.

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Thanks to a grant from the Department of Homeland Security, Thomas said the city should be able to at least maintain its class 4 rating.

The grant, which will provide six new fire fighters to the city, was accepted by the Troy City Council last week.

The grant will span across five years, funding 90 percent of the new employee’s salaries and benefits for the first year, 80 percent for the second, 50 percent for the third, 30 percent for the fourth and the fifth will be funded solely by the city.

The total grant will be $570,000.

Through this grant, the city will be able to keep up with standards at a rate that will gradually add to its annual budget.

“One reason (we chose to do this) is maintaining up to date firefighting capabilities in the city,” said Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford. “And, at the same time, by having adequate personnel in the city it helps keep our fire rating down and premiums lower.”

Outlaw said the city is evaluated every 10 years on its fire rating, the next one is expected in 2012.

“One of the things we were warned to do was get additional personnel, so this allows us to utilize federal monies to increase our funding and insurance premiums down in Troy,” Lunsford said.

Troy City Council President Johnny Witherington, who also owns an insurance company, said there are several factors that decide local home insurance premiums, ranging from the number of fire men to the size of water lines to the number of wells within the city.

“The city of Troy is rated Protection Call 4 by ISO,” Witherington said. “Adding additional firefighters will help the city to maintain that Protection Class rating, which does impact the cost of Business and Personal Property Insurance premiums.”

Outlaw said recruitment for these positions will begin now, and he hopes to have them started by Oct. 24.

Outlaw said only six of these types of grants were awarded in the state.

“This is only one of six of these awarded in the state for the 2008 period, and we were lucky to be one of the six awarded,” Outlaw said. “With the growth of the city we’ve had over the past couple of years…one way or another, the city would have had to end up hiring these personnel.”