By NATHAN GREGORY
The Mississippi State Rating Bureau recently evaluated Starkville’s fire, water and emergency services as well as the city’s building codes and enforcement in order to determine whether or not the city’s fire insurance rating can improve from a Class 5 to a Class 4.
MSRB Superintendent of Public Protection Ty Windham came last week and stayed for four days inspecting city water and fire capabilities. The ultimate rating given to the city depends on the performance of four features. The city’s water supply and fire department capabilities each count for 39 percent of the overall rating. Starkville’s emergency 911 services count for 9 percent, while the other 13 percent is assessed to fire safety control, which entails how recent the city’s building codes are and its enforcement of those codes and standards. The Starkville Board of Aldermen approved in May to adopt the 2011 National Electric Code and the 2012 International Code Council standards and begin enforcing them in 2013.
Starkville Fire Department Chief Rodger Mann said he should be notified in August on the inspection results.
“With any department’s overall long range goal, you want to reduce your city’s rating which in turn results in a savings to the citizens or the businesses. Starkville is currently a (Class) 5 and if we can go to a (Class) 4 there would be savings to some residents but … savings to the commercial side is where the significant savings would wind up,” Mann said. “(MSRB officials) look at our fire inspectors. They’ll look at their records as to do they get around and look at every business and how often it takes them to do that. They’ll look at their records (to see if) violations are being found and if they are correcting the violations.”
Mann said one improvement the city has made since the last audit that he hopes will boost the rating is water capacity.
“(Starkville Public Works Director) Doug Devlin … has done a tremendous job pulling the water pressure up. We still have some deficiencies within our water infrastructure. He has a plan to get that straightened out and (Windham) was satisfied with his plan,” Mann said.
Mann said inspectors also looked at various facets of SFD’s performance and capabilities.
“They look at our training … (and) how active in continuing training our department is. (They also) look at our maintenance records on our trucks … then they look at the staffing and the manpower. They’ll roll over to your building department and they just want to know what codes you’re doing and if you’re enforcing your codes. Then they’ll go over to 911 and they’ll look at the volume of calls 911 receives versus the number of dispatchers they have. They look at 911(‘s facility) to see what kind of building as far as to what it would withstand … during foul weather.”
Mann said SFD and Starkville Public Works employees have dedicated a lot of time toward improving emergency capabilities and hope to achieve a Class 4 rating.
“I want a 4 because that’s just something you do in the fire services is to work toward it because it’s an accomplishment for our department, but more importantly its an accomplishment for a department that has a benefit directly back to the citizens.”