Southeast Lee County residents planning fire district
By Philip Moulden
Lee County supervisors Monday will conduct a public hearing into a proposal to form a new fire district in the southeast portion of the county, a move that will leave only three major county areas outside a fire district.
The proposed Union Volunteer Fire Protection District would cover the southeast corner of the county and extend an arm northward beyond Plantersville.
At the same time, supervisors are expected to grant final approval to the South Lee Fire Protection District lying in the southwest corner of the county. The South Lee district gained board approval last month, but residents in the area had 30 days to file a petition to force an election.
“I think they worked out everything at the last meeting,” County Administrator Ronnie Bell said of the South Lee plan. “I haven’t heard anything about anybody opposing it.”
If both districts are approved (Union’s final approval would come next month), that would leave only the Brewer, Birmingham Ridge and Unity areas outside a fire protection district, county Fire Coordinator Ray Keith said.
“I know the supervisors do – and I do, too – want everybody in the county in a fire district,” Keith said. “I’m real pleased with the progress we’ve made in Lee County.”
Keith noted however, that all county residents get fire protection through a mutual-aid agreement among all fire departments in the county. However, definite district coverage can lead to reduced insurance rates for district residents.
The state Fire Bureau rates fire protection from 1 to 10, with the lowest number the best rating. Although insurance companies don’t follow the ratings exactly, many use them to set premiums.
A ratings reduction from an uncertified 10, which could apply to many homeowners outside a fire district, to an 8, which is generally the best rating an all-volunteer district can attain, can mean a savings of hundreds of dollars a year in fire insurance costs.
“That Union bunch is really going after it, they’re taking off,” Keith said of the organizers of the proposed new district.
The group has already begun naming chiefs and organization officers, and members have begun training, he said.
“I imagine they’ll have a station by July,” Keith said. “They’ve already gotten them some land (in Union).”
Keith said district officials will likely build a second station later to reduce response time to extended areas.