Jackson County Looking to Lower ISO Ratings

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Marianna- The ISO assigns communities a fire rating, on a scale of 1-10, signifying their ability to respond to fires.

"A minimum fire service in an area would have a fire service of 9" explained Jackson County Administrator, Ted Lakey. "A wonderfully served community would be a two or a one. There's numbers in between, and that's what the insurance company uses to help set your insurance rate for fires".

Lakey said the current rate for Jackson County was nine. He thought shifts in the county's growth patterns over the last 30 years played a major role in that poorer rating.

"Our main station was placed in 1980 up at the Marianna Industrial Park which is close to the Marianna Airport. At the time it was placed up there, I think it was to serve the federal prison, airport- industrial park. Well, a number of things have happened. The main thing is, the city of Marianna has annexed" he said.

So Tuesday, county commissioners have planned to vote whether to hire a consulting firm to assess the county's overall fire coverage, station placement, and call volume.The consultant would then make recommendations as to how the county could improve service and protection.

If they approve the consultants recommendations, the county would then assess implementing a fire services fee to each property owner to pay for the improvements.

"Lowe's, Walmart- those bigger businesses, would be assessed at a higher amount and then the homeowner would be assessed at a much lower amount" Lakey explained.

But, he also said he thought the amount of money property owners would save on lower insurance rates, would be much lower than the new county assessment.

If the board votes to hire the consulting firm, Lakey estimated recommendations would be returned to the county within six months.

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