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Fire chief: Hall needs ladder truck to get better insurance rates
Hall County firefighter Jeff Reed extends the Station 5 ladder during a routine test procedure.

Hall County Board of Commissioners meeting

When: 6 p.m. Thursday

Where: Hall County Government Center, 2875 Browns Bridge Road, Gainesville

Hall County Fire Chief David Kimbrell said a new fire station in North Hall will improve insurance rates only on the condition that a second ladder truck is secured by the county.

“If we don’t get it, we don’t the credit for the stations,” he said.

In assessing risk and safety, the Insurance Services Office factors in an array of indicators, he said.

“It’s a huge mathematic formula, and they calculate all of that throughout the entire county,” Kimbrell said. “It’s really difficult to describe exactly how the truck would impact the rating, but there’s a need for one there.”

If the Station 16 under construction lacks the outlined equipment based on its coverage area, ISO guidelines mean the county won’t earn a better fire safety rating, he said.

“You need certain equipment there based on the height of buildings; the number of tall buildings,” Kimbrell said.

Hall’s only ladder truck is housed at Station 5 near the intersection of Atlanta Highway and Martin Road.

Station 16, being built at Mount Vernon and Shirley roads, was deemed necessary to bring insurance relief to homeowners, who saw skyrocketing coverage prices because of a low safety rating.

Kimbrell said he has located a truck in Ohio, which would cost $525,000 and include a six-month warranty.

Other associated costs include $30,000 for new truck equipment and around $401,000 annually for personnel.

Additional firefighters are similarly necessary, Kimbrell said.

“You have to have personnel to operate the truck,” he said. “You have to have the personnel or you don’t get the credit — that’s just another factor that’s used in the overall calculation.”

The Hall County Board of Commissioners meets today at 6 p.m. at the government center on Browns Bridge Road in Gainesville to vote on the funding.

An assessor from an ISO office in Jacksonville, Fla., is headed to Hall next Wednesday, Kimbrell said.

“They typically come every 10 years. They were here in 2005, but Gainesville had requested them to come back and inspect them,” Kimbrell said.

“While they’re here, they’re just going to inspect us.”

Although the stations are still under construction, they will still count toward the reassessed rating, he said.

“When they called and told us that they were coming, we told them that the stations were under construction, so they will factor that into the overall rating, and it will be issued after the stations have been completed,” Kimbrell said.

Brand new, he said, the truck carries about a $1.2 million or $1.3 million price tag.

“It costs considerably more because of the ladder,” Kimbrell said. “It’s a lot of ladders, cutting devices and a lot of equipment on there.”

The station would have one fire truck and one ladder truck in total, he said.

“(The fire truck has) actually been ordered; it should be here pretty soon,” Kimbrell said.