January 24, 2007 - Posted at 5:45 p.m. CST
TRUMANN-Residents in Trumann could be paying less for insurance, if there were more firefighters to serve their community.
"If we can get a Class-4 rating, people on a fixed income will save about 100 dollars a year on fire insurance and homeowners insurance," said Chief Rick Winkles.
The Trumann Fire Department's insurance rating is currently a five out of ten.
"The lower the rating the lower your home owners insurance. Also on your business insurance. If factories come to town they get a lower insurance rate," said Winkles.
But when the last assessment was done 14 years ago, the department fell short in things like a new training room and adequate staffing. That kept the insurance rating up.
"We corrected that when we built our new station in 2000. We have a new training room now. We got some new equipment and new pumper trucks," said Winkles.
However, it's the additional manpower the station needs the most.
We're told eight new firefighters would be the ideal number, but with current budget constraints, the fire chief says even the addition of four new full-time fire fighters would be beneficial to staffing levels, as well as, the protection of residents lives and property.
"We have standards we have to go by," said Winkles. "For instance if we go into a burning structure. We are supposed to have two men in and two men out. And without adequate staffing you risk the fire fighters lives trying to go in a building."
Because of these concerns Chief Winkles is working with Mayor, Sheila Walters to come up with a plan.
"We definitely want to work with them and we want our rating as low as we can get it," said Walters.
She says, it's often easy to think you are protected when you see a new fire station and new equipment, but not as easy to know there are problems.
"I always thought I've got fire protection. But when you get on into studying the details, I do understand they need an increased number of people," said Walters.
And hopefully with a little time and effort. Trumann's fire department will see a few more helping hands.
We're told some options are applying for grants and possibly extending the current bond on existing fire trucks to help subsidize the cost of more firefighters.
Whatever the option, it will only benefit the community in the long run, because if the Departments Fire Rating comes down, so will Insurance Rates, and that's good news for everyone.