Americus Fire Department designated Class 1 ISO

Published 12:56 pm Saturday, August 25, 2018

By Beth Alston

AMERICUS — The gallery attending the regular monthly meeting of the Americus Mayor and City Council were generous with their approval as demonstrated by two explosions of applause, a rarity.
Chief Roger Bivins of Americus Fire & Emergency Services announced that as of Dec. 1, the Americus fire department will be classified as ISO 1, a class one fire department, which is the penultimate designation.
This announcement was met with hearty applause from the audience.
Bivins told the Times-Recorder that members of the Americus Fire and Emergency Services have been working on achieving an ISO class 1 rating since the last survey dated Jan. 3, 2013. “We were rated as a class 2 then and we made it a priority to achieve a class 1 rating,” he said. “We studied the previous rating and started to make a concentrated effort to correct any deficiencies that were under our control. We worked tirelessly to ensure that all personnel met the 240 hours of annual training and that our apparatus and personnel were properly equipped. This is where mayor and council really stepped up and allowed us the funds to purchase missing equipment that was required.
“We worked with Middle Flint 911 Center and the city of Americus water department to ensure that all parts of the survey would receive maximum points.”
Bivins explained that the 911 Center accounted for 10 percent of the score with 9.82 out of 10 points. The water department accounts for 40 percent of the score and it received 35.67 out of 40 points. The fire department accounts for 50 percent of the score and received 42.02 out of 50 points. (Community risk reductions received 4.86 out of 5.5 points. The total is 91.34 points. A 90 is required for a class 1 rating.
Bivins said that according to ISO (2017) there are over 43,094 fire departments it grades throughout the country and only 305 have a class 1 rating. “That is pretty impressive when you think about it,” he said. “The lowered ISO rating could mean insurance premium savings to business and home owners. Individuals need to check with their insurance providers for specifics.”
Bivins thanked the business owners for allowing his department personnel to come in and perform prefire inspections on an annual basis.
The other item that drew applause was the council’s anonymous decision to approve the recommendations of a Comprehensive Classification Study recently completed by Management Advisory Group at a cost of $27,950. There were many city employees in attendance and they were part of the exuberance.
The recommendations are 1) to increase all current salaries to the new minimum for each position within a class that currently falls below the new set minimum beginning Sept. 1; 2) all employees to receive a 2.5 Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) on Jan. 1, 2019; and 3) implement pay equity and longevity adjustments to address salary compressions which considers the number of years in current position by Jan. 1, 2019.
Mayor Barry Blount commented that it was “a historic night that represents the concern of the council for the city employees and the citizens.”
Council member Nelson Brown made the motion to approve, seconded by Council member Daryl Dowdell, and it passed unanimously.
Dee Jones, director of Human Resources for the city of Americus, said the study found that the city’s pay scale was 18 percent below the minimum market rate.
Following the vote, Mayor Barry Blount explained that raising the minimums would cost $255,637 or .82 percent of one mill, and that the cost of living and longevity raises would cost $427,775 or 2.19 mills.
“That doesn’t mean we have to raise the millage rate that much,” he said. “But it is does not good to do a pay study and then stick it on a shelf to gather dust.” He said he the city will be looking at these matters during the budgeting process which starts soon.
Other items on the agenda included the following.
• Approved a speed bump on Academy Street to prevent speeding in the McCoy Hill Park area. The motion as made by Council member Juanita Wilson, seconded by Nelson Brown, and passed unanimously.
• Unanimously approved the mayor to sign the property owner agreement for the property at the new Jackson Street train depot where an historical marker will be placed.
• Approved the appointment of Terrell Coley to serve on the Land Bank Authority, after Tom Harrison’s term ends on July 24.
• Approved Nelson Brown to serve on the Land Bank Authority to fill Carla Cook’s term, which expires July 24, 2020. Cook resigned.
• Approved the appointment of Jim Peace to serve on the Planning and Zoning Commission to fill the term of Len Hicks which ends May 31, 2021. Hicks resigned.
• Approved the appointment of Maurice Barron to the Board of Zoning Appeals to fill the term of George Lauren, who resigned, which expires March 21, 2020.
There were also a number of items on the consent agenda approved by the council.