Homeowners in Collinston will soon see a rate reduction in their fire insurance premiums.
Commissioner of Insurance Jim Donelon announced that effective July 8, 2013, Collinston homeowners will see the reduction thanks to an improvement in the fire protection grading from Class 5 to Class 4.

"The improved fire protection grading will bring about insurance rate reductions for many policyholders - but perhaps more importantly, the new grading means that the protection of residents has been significantly enhanced," Donelon said. "I commend the community for their successful efforts to improve safety."

Collinston Fire Chief Brandon Gilbreath was pleased with the new rating and contributed it to all of the volunteers.

"We have a great group of volunteers who have really made a difference in the fire department," said Gilbreath. "We haven't missed a fire call and the volunteers always answer the test pages, which shows that they are loyal to the job."

Gilbreath said David Pipes and Jon Paul Carter have been huge assets to the group of volunteers, going above and beyond in order to make the fire department and in turn the village better.

"David handles all our paper work and schedules our training classes," said Gilbreath. "Jon Paul has just worked extremely hard helping get the station in order and making sure we have everything we need."

Fire protection is graded on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 representing no fire protection and 1 being the best.

Pipes explained what went into the grading:

"One-third of the grade comes from membership, training and equipment; one-third comes from the water system and the last third comes from the 911 system," Pipes said. "Brandon has done a great job as Public Works Director for Collinston and the water system rated near perfect.

"We also have 23 members, all of whom respond to calls and a great relationship with the Morehouse Parish Sheriff's Office, who answers our 911 calls."

Pipes said the group had had several training sessions with the LSU Fire and Emergency Training Institute, where they have learned the proper technique for operating the pumps, driving safety and self contained breathing apparatus training. They also have in-house training at least once a month, where the volunteers learn about the operations of the truck as well as other topics.

The volunteers have been able to add two bays to the fire station and purchase much needed equipment and in the future, will be installing their own radio tower and purchasing a tanker truck.

"The main thing is the people involved," said Carter. "We work very well together and everyone just does what is needed."

Carter said future plans for upgrading the surrounding area's class is something they are all concerned with.

"We want to upgrade and be able to respond to those areas on the outside of the village as well as those on the inside," Carter said. "Whatever we can do, we are going to do it."

Fire insurance for a home valued at $150,000 cost residents in Collinston about $1,070 a year. Due to the new rating, this cost will liking drop to about $996.