Sumter County leaders Tuesday announced a drastically improved rating from the Insurance Services Office which should translate into lower insurance rates for property owners.
Two years ago, the county decided to start a fire department from scratch. Last summer, county commissioners approved a new fee to fund it. They say the department is working well, and they're trying to keep costs down by using inmate firefighters.
County Commission Chairman Randy Howard said, "It's been a lot of positive stuff. Number one, where there was no fire protection in the past there are fire protection now. But what is unique more than anything else is we're using inmate firefighters, and that's something a lot of counties do not. What it does is actually give us a full engine crew with one paid firefighter and the inmates, and we've been very impressed with the inmate firefighters."
The county's new ISO rating puts it in the top 20% of fire departments in the state. They hope to improve it even more in the near future.
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