Nesbit Fire Department showed off its new 2021 International medium pumper truck on Monday which will help the department keep its fire rating up and reach rural areas that are tough to access with full size equipment more easily.
The department purchased the $199,000, 500-gallon pumper truck with help from DeSoto County, which requested $90,000 toward the cost from the State Rural Fire Truck Fund.
“It’s great for the community,” said District 5 Supervisor Michael Lee. “Being a rural area, it’s very needed for DeSoto County.”
District 4 Supervisor Lee Caldwell, who along with Lee serves on the Board of Supervisor’s Fire and EMA Committee, said buying the new truck is important for Nesbit because it will help the rural department maintain its fire rating of 6.
Nesbit has about 30 volunteers.
“When Michael and I became supervisors, every volunteer fire department in the county was a 10,” Caldwell said. “(County EMA Director) Chris Olson and EMA was the ones who promoted and pushed to work to get the unincorporated area’s fire ratings down.”
That low fire rating, in turn, helps save resident’s hundreds of dollars on their homeowners insurance.
“We have a volunteer fire department here that has a fire rating of six,” Caldwell said. “To make a comparison, the City of Hernando has a five. But you have to have good equipment and it costs money. For me, for my house, it’s a $250 a year savings on my homeowners insurance.”
Caldwell said the county has worked hard to provide more funding over the years to its rural fire departments like Nesbit because those departments are not fully funded by the county.
Several years ago the county asked state legislators to pass a bill allowing the county to dedicate a percentage of its millage rate specifically for funding rural fire departments. DeSoto County diverts money from one mil for rural fire departments. The county has eight rural fire departments.
The rest of the funding comes from donations, insurance rebate money, and levy fees collected from residents of each of the rural fire districts.
“Michael and I worked really hard to get some additional funding, and we are setting up a grant this year so that each volunteer fire department can apply and get an additional $40,000 to go into buying the needs that they have,” Caldwell said.
Lee added that residents should check with their insurance company to make sure they are paying rates that benefit from a fire rating of 6.
“A lot of people hear about it, but don’t know what to do about it,” Lee said.
Fire Chief Larry Loomis said fire departments are required to have Class A equipment in order to keep their fire rating. The new pumper will be housed at Nesbit Fire Station 17 on Dean Street and will replace the existing pumper truck which is 25 years old.
“Under the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) regulations you have to have Class A in each station and substation,” Loomis said. “The one we have up there will be going out of service next year. We were going to have to get something. We had an opportunity to move quicker and get something. It has all of the qualifications to be a Class A.”
Loomis said the medium pumper truck will be a valuable piece of equipment because it will be able to access areas where full size pumper trucks can’t get to.
“A short time back there was a fire back in the neighboring area that they lost a lot of the animals because nobody could get a truck there,” Loomis said. “The smaller mid-size is a great opportunity to reach a lot of the rural area. The rural areas so often have narrow driveways going all the way up through trees and woods and it is extremely difficult to get to.”