Conservation on the Ground -
NRCS Coordinates Local Effort
to Improve the Quality of Life for
Nancy Lou Community, by Julie A. Best, Public Affairs
Specialist, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, Auburn, AL
The Nancy Lou community in rural Limestone County, Alabama, is home to about 35 families.
Domestic household fires in this community were a serious concern. The problem wasn’t that
there was no fire protection—the Clements Rural Fire Department covers the area—but because
there were no fire hydrants within 1,000 feet of these residences, the fire department was
severely limited in its ability to fight a house or
When a community has a fire department,
whether volunteer or paid, residents can save
money on their insurance. The Insurance
Services Office (ISO) Inc., a nationwide
company headquartered in Jersey City, N.J.,
gives fire department ratings based on the
department’s ability to fight fires. The ratings
range from Class 10, which means almost no
protection, to Class 1, which means the
department offers the best protection possible.
Generally speaking, homeowners who live in
fire department districts with lower ratings pay
less for their home insurance premiums.
The ISO looks at a number of criteria when
determining a rating. The company looks at
three main components: the fire department itself (50 percent of the rating), the community’s
water supply (40 percent of the rating), and how well a department receives and dispatches fire
alarms (10 percent of the rating). For the Nancy Lou community, the bottleneck was the
availability of water for fire protection.
Two fire hydrants were installed in the
Nancy Lou community in Limestone
County to provide fire protection for
35 homes in the area.
A number of entities became interested and concerned about this problem. In many rural
communities, a church is the only organization that fosters community gatherings. Over time,
the church leaders often respond not only to the spiritua