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Fire Dist. 4 improves rating

Dist. 4 Fire Chief J.T. Wallace discusses business with the department's Human Resource Officer Lisa Chaffin. (Courtesy photo)

Bossier Parish Fire District 4 received some good news recently and that translates to very good news, plus something extra in the pocketbook, for residents of the rural fire district.

Fire Chief J.T. Wallace said the district’s rating has been upgraded to Class 3 following a once every five years inspection and grading by the Insurance Service Office (ISO), an agency that provides statistical information on risk.

“That is very significant for us and the people we serve,” Wallace said. “Moving from Class 4 to Class 3 means benefits for our department, but most importantly it means our residents will be looking at savings on their homeowners insurance.”

Savings on insurance could average as much as $600 annually due to the improvement, he predicted.

Wallace said his department was notified in July that the move up in classification had been earned. It was a reward for hard work and extra efforts on the part of District 4’s 38 full-time firefighters and support personnel.

“Everyone worked very hard to get this rating,” he said. “It reflects on our people that they were willing to go the extra mile every time to improve in areas that were critical to earning the new classification.”

One of the most critical areas the department faced was response time. Standards call for teams to arrive on site of an emergency in four to six minutes. All other personnel who will be involved in whatever the situation are to be on site in nine minutes.

“The response time was important to what we were trying to accomplish and in 80 percent of the cases we met the standards,” Wallace said.

Response time plays a large part in District 4 because of the size and makeup of the area covered, Wallace said. There are four elementary schools, two junior high schools and two high schools, plus 25,247 residents in the district’s 174 square miles.

Several upscale subdivisions are also located in the district. The median value of homes in the area runs about $246,000 and that’s projected to rise to roughly $297,000 by the year 2022, he added.

“Our area is growing so fast and we’re trying to be proactive in everything we do rather than reactive,” Wallace said. “We’re already looking at the things we have to do in order to move up in classification when the next rating period rolls around in five years.”

Other areas that helped improve the classification included water hauling (“We were in the top five percent in credits for hauling…”) , the district’s 911 and communications systems and improvement in technology, Wallace said.

“Our training programs received a 100 percent credit, and that’s historic,” he said. “We also received top credits for our manpower levels.”

Wallace said he intends to focus on fire prevention education bonus credits by expanding programs already in use by the department. Plans include more visibility for the department through visits to schools and special events, and presentations to classes and groups.

“It’s always good to see hard work rewarded and we’re extremely proud of the new classification,” Wallace said. “The people we serve and protect deserve the best they can get and we want to give them what they deserve.”

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Sean Green is managing editor of the Bossier Press-Tribune.


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