Pepperell High School

Pepperell High School

Pepperell High School will be the scene of a school evacuation drill Wednesday morning and some of the roads in the area may be closed for a time.

Rome-Floyd Fire Deputy Chief Curt Pierson said Floyd County Schools asked for the exercise, which is scheduled from 8:30 to 11 a.m. at the school in Lindale. It will be a simulated natural gas leak involving the fire department, county police and emergency management agency.

“The plan is to evacuate every student at the high school and move them to the First Baptist Church,” Pierson told members of the Fire Overview Committee Tuesday.

Division Chief Dean Oswalt said it would be a big operation, and it’s likely the beginning of ongoing drills at county schools. School system officials, who are interested in having one or two each year, are considering Model as the next practice spot.

“I have a feeling it will be like herding cats,” Pierson said. “I know there will be some lessons learned, and oftentimes in training that’s what you’re looking for. Lessons learned.”

Committee members also got updates on several other initiatives.

Pierson said the department received a federal reimbursement of over $6,000 for costs associated with assistance provided in south Georgia last October in the wake of Hurricane Michael.

Also, Station 7 in Coosa has been completely remodeled which included fixing a sewer line issue under the concrete slab.

“We’re trying to remodel a station a year,” Fire Chief Troy Brock said.

The department has 15 stations situated around the city and county and the Cave Spring Fire Department also responds to calls from the unincorporated area.

The coverage — along with new equipment and training programs — has netted a countywide ISO Class 2 rating. That’s on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best fire protection. Insurance companies use the classifications to set home insurance rates.

“When you look at our ISO rating versus the rest of the state, it saves us a lot of money,” County Commissioner Scotty Hancock said. “The fire department has come a long way in a few years.”

According to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, just five of the state’s 159 counties have an ISO Class 1 rating: Cobb, Clayton, Columbia, Richmond and Muscogee.

County Manager Jamie McCord noted that Floyd, DeKalb, Gwinnett, Athens-Clarke and Dougherty are the only Class 2 counties, as of the DCA’s November report date.

Asked how the county could attain an ISO Class 1 rating, Brock said it would mean increasing manpower and the availability of water. But he followed up quickly with a disclaimer.

“I don’t think it’s feasible,” Brock said. “It would be very costly and you won’t save enough money to make it worth doing.”

The highest-rated counties are those with people densely packed in smaller areas, McCord said. Floyd County has just under 98,000 people spread across 519 square miles.

Pierson said SPLOST funding for items such as vehicles, equipment, buildings, water projects and roads has been instrumental in attaining the high rating.