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|Police jurors balk on fire department study|
The Ouachita Parish Police Jury declined Tuesday to approve a study to determine how the parish fire department could improve its class fire rating because several police jurors wanted more information on the subject.
Wade Bishop, chairman of the OPFD Advisory Committee, discussed the proposal with police jurors during Tuesday night's regular meeting.
He said the advisory committee supported using the Social Science Research laboratory at the University of Louisiana-Monroe to conduct the study.
"We feel like this will be a great way for us to partner with our local university," Bishop said.
The matter is expected to be brought back before the jurors once they get their individual questions answered to their satisfaction.
Bishop said conducting the study would help determine what the parish fire department must do to improve to a class 4 rating, or better. The parish fire department currently has a class 5 rating.
The department's class rating determines how much parish property owners pay for homeowner's insurance. The highest rating, or best rating, is a class 1. The Property Insurance Association of Louisiana determines the rating for each fire department in the state.
"It's important to have the best rating we can, possibly have with the money available to us," Bishop said.
"The rating from a class 4 to a class 5, insurance-wise, has the biggest jump," Bishop continued. "So what we would like this study to do is assimilate all the facts about our department, where people now live versus where we thought they were going to live when we built the stations we currently have and how much it will cost to build new stations. We want all these things from an unbiased third party, which we think will be good to help us make the decisions necessary."
"We want to even challenge everyone to get to a class 3," Bishop added.
Chief Pat Hemphill allocated $40,000 in the fire department's 2008 budget for endeavors such as the study the advisory committee wants to conduct. The cost of using ULM would be $17,500. Hemphill says it would be appropriate to use some of the $40,000 for this study.