Thomas County Buying New Equipment

Residents living in rural areas where fire hydrants are few and far between can still breathe a sigh of relief. The firefighters bring the water to the fire using special trucks, and now Thomas County's fire department is adding more of those trucks to ensure all of its citizens receive the same fire protection.

It's your worst nightmare; you return home, to find your house engulfed in flames. Even worse, there is no more water to fight the blaze. It's a scenario, Thomas County fire officials say came very close to reality.

"We've actually depleted their entire water source out of every hydrant they add and we had to bring in takers from other counties to come in and offset the water supply,” says Chris Jones, Thomas County Fire Department.

Since many rural areas in south Georgia do not have wet fire hydrants, Jones says water tanker trucks like this are a necessity for rural fire departments, and that's why, he says, Thomas County is getting four more of them. This tanker can carry up to 3,000 gallons of water.

"It gives us a way to move large volumes of water that we have never had in the past."

Six fire engines, already in service, are other recent purchases by the county. The funding for this equipment comes from SPLOST dollars.

"It makes me feel safe as a guy who is getting older and concern something might happen to me personally at home," says Conrad Engel, a resident.

While additional trucks and equipment are helping to provide increased fire protection, Chris Jones says there is an added benefit. The county hope's to lower its ISO rating, and that could mean lower fire insurance rates for residents in the county.

Jones says the ISO rating in rural Thomas Bounty is about a 9, now that's one point away from no fire protection at all. So, when the ISO team arrives for an intense inspection, the department hopes to earn an 8 or better. They hope to find out the new rating by January.