It took less than an hour for Oktibbeha County volunteer firefighters to move 40,000 gallons of water during a Wednesday morning water shuttle exercise near Sturgis.
Wednesday’s grading exercise, conducted for the Mississippi State Rating Bureau, was for the District 4 Fire Protection District, and aimed to improve the district’s fire rating.
Fire protection is rated on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the worst. The exercise set out to lower the district’s fire rating from a 9, according to Sturgis Volunteer Fire Department Chief Greg Wall.
“We’re hoping to get down to an 8 and maybe a 7 — that would be hitting a home run,” Wall said. “The town of Sturgis is currently a 7, and if we hit a grand slam we’d get them down to a 6.”
A better fire protection rating can lower home insurance rates and raise property values.
Austin Check, training officer for Oktibbeha County’s volunteer fire departments, said the water shuttle exercise demonstrates the county’s ability to move large quantities of water to the scene of a fire.
“The county does not have fire hydrants every 1,000 feet, so when we say we can provide so much water we have to actually prove we can do it,” Check said. “That was our goal (Wednesday) morning — to move 40,000 gallons of water in an hour, which translates roughly to 600 gallons per minute. We needed to do that in an hour and did it in less than 50 minutes.”
During the exercise, a pumper truck with the Sturgis volunteer department used water delivered by a tanker truck from the department, along with tankers from the Central Oktibbeha, Maben, District 5 and Ackerman volunteer departments to pump water to a hose on a stationary trailer. Check periodically monitored the flow from the hose with a pilot gauge.
Ty Windham, superintendent for Public Protection with the Mississippi State Rating Bureau, said the test looked at the fire department, water supply and communications. He said it normally takes about two weeks for departments to get results, but Wednesday’s results may take a slightly longer due to an upcoming conference.
“The minimum (they’ve) got to pump was 250 (gallons per minute) to grade,” Windham said. “If you want to grade better we tell them to pump as much as they can. They did 600 today, so that’ll help those deficiencies with not having water.
“It takes something large, like a big structure to need 600 gallons a minute,” he added. “That just shows that they supply this whole district in case of a large fire.”
Wall said that, whatever the results of Wednesday’s test, he’s proud of his department.
“Oktibbeha County is making steps across the county to move forward with fire protection,” Wall said. “Sturgis is no different. This was our turn today. This can improve our insurance rating, but it can also improve property values and give the citizens that we protect and serve the confidence that when there’s an emergency and it’s fire related, we’ve got the equipment, the manpower and experience to bring the water and handle the job.”
Alex Holloway was formerly a reporter with The Dispatch.
You can help your community
Quality, in-depth journalism is essential to a healthy community. The Dispatch brings you the most complete reporting and insightful commentary in the Golden Triangle, but we need your help to continue our efforts. Please consider subscribing to our website for only $2.30 per week to help support local journalism and our community.