LEE COUNTY, Miss. (WTVA) - The Palmetto Old Union Fire Department improved its community's fire rating, which in turn impacts homeowners.
"That's a great accomplishment for a volunteer fire department to do something such as that," Fire Chief Jeff Pearson said.
With an improved fire rating, homeowners' insurance premiums decrease.
"Palmetto stayed at a nine for quite a while," Pearson said. "We've came in. We brought in a lot of new hands and turned the department around tremendously."
"I'm excited because that's going to reflect on my insurance premiums," Eddie Baker, a long-time Palmetto resident said. "These guys are right on top of it the best they can be being volunteers."
Several factors go into improving a fire rating. Annual training, how much water firetrucks can haul, how many hydrants are in the community and how much man-power a department has are just some of those.
On Saturday, the Palmetto Old Union Fire Department and the Belden Fire Department conducted a training exercise.
"I like to get the guys in, at least yearly, on an exercise like this to where they can stay active and know the do's and dont's inside an actual structure," Pearson said.
The exercise involved filling a donated structure with smoke (in this case, a mobile home), conducting a search pattern until the victim (dummy) is found and brought outside the structure.
"This was an abandoned structure," Pearson said. "It had been abandoned for quite awhile. So, we got in touch with the landowner, and he wanted it gone for sure. So, we thought it'd be a great opportunity for our department to do some training and burn it up and get rid of it for him."
According to Pearson, all Lee County fire departments, and those in the surrounding counties are "hurting for volunteers."
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer firefighter and would like to know more, Pearson suggests reaching out to your community's fire chief and ask about attending their meetings.