Residents Dealing With High Fire Rating

OAK GROVE HEIGHTS, AR--You speak and we listen. Last month as part of our Community Spotlight on Greene County we asked for issues that are important to your community.

Residents who live in the Oak Grove Heights fire district were wondering what could be done to lower their fire rating that is an eight in town and a ten, the highest rating, outside of the city limits.

The higher fire rating equals a higher premium on home owner's insurance. It's an extra expense that is tough on some residents like 83 year-old Ganes Boling.

"They are building pretty good here, but they might be able to build better if they had a better fire rating. It's nice out here," said Boling.

Boling has lived in Oak Grove Heights for five years and feels the area has a lot of potential for growth, but he's worried about the area's high fire rating.

"No it's not easy, not when you are on fixed income, ain't nothing easy," said Boling.

There is potential for a lower fire rating in Oak Grove Heights. With plenty of fire hydrants and sufficient equipment, the major holdup is the varying degrees of water pressure around town.

"We have a water situation in Oak Grove. We are covered by half the town by Paragould water, half is covered by Lafe and the Lafe side doesn't really have much water pressure," said Oak Grove Heights Fire Chief John Messer.

According to Chief Messer, the higher the water pressure the quicker tanker trucks can refill.

Messer says the Lafe Fire Department has asked the city of Lafe to build up the water pressure for both towns; however so far nothing has been done.

Currently, residents in the Oak Grove Heights city limits have a fire rating of eight and Messer feels there are options to get it lower.

"I could do it easier by saying we're not going to cover outside the city limits of Oak Grove and go in and just cover the city limits. I think I could get ours down to, I am guessing a five or a six," said Messer.

Lowering the rating would probably save home owners a few hundred dollars a year. However, the city limits only make up about 20% of the fire department's coverage area.

"We don't want to do that because we don't want to cut the people outside of Oak Grove out without fire service," said Messer.

According to the Fire Chief, building additional stations outside the city limits for better coverage isn't an option because they are considered a municipal fire department.