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Causey hand delivers much needed aid

EURE – North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey isn’t shy when it comes to expressing his fondness for volunteer fire departments. After all, he stood inside one when he first accepted the oath of office in January of 2017.

“That was the Guil-Rand Volunteer Fire Department,” Causey said of chosen destination to raise his right hand and become the first-ever Republican to hold the title of North Carolina Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal. “I did that symbolically to show my support for the volunteer fire departments all across our great state.”

Causey paid a recent visit to the Eure Volunteer Fire Department. His trip was two-fold: one to present a $27,429 check to Eure firefighters to help them purchase much needed equipment, and to listen to their concerns. One of the concerns with small, rural fire departments is attracting new volunteers.

“That’s one of the things my office is working on,” Causey remarked. “You guys here in Eure have a good thing going by developing a Junior Firefighters Program.”

The Commissioner said there is current legislation designed to help volunteer recruitment and retention for fire departments.

“With a few exceptions, most of the volunteer fire departments here in our state are struggling in the recruitment of young people,” Causey said. “There’s just not the same level of community service like there use to be. That’s compounded when you get to smaller rural areas where the population is declining.”

That shrinking population, as well as seeing mom and pop businesses close, translates into a lower tax base.

“That, in turn, impacts the a county’s budget, which means there’s less money to fund services like volunteer fire departments,” the Commissioner noted. “What we try to do from my position as the State Fire Marshal is to meet with them face-to-face, listen to their concerns, and see where we can help.”

Causey pointed out that the services provided by a volunteer fire department are worth millions to the county in which they operate.

“If county government had to provide 24-7 fire protection by purchasing all the vehicles, all the equipment – the hoses, the turn-out gear, the air packs, etc. – and hiring paid staff, the property tax rate would be astronomical,” he observed. “These volunteer departments provide a valuable service at a bargain price. We are here today in Eure to award this fire department some funding to help them keep on doing the great jobs that they do, day in and day out.”

The 68-year-old Guilford County native proudly said he still lives on the same farm where he grew up.

“Our rural fire department there started in 1956,” he said. “It’s always the first emergency responder to go out and help those who are in need. And, probably like ya’ll here in Eure, they operate on a tight budget….getting very little from the county and the rest they generate through fundraisers.”

He stressed the fact there are other ways that a volunteer fire department can assist those living in their coverage areas.

“Most people don’t think of how a local fire department relates to the cost of homeowners insurance,” he noted. “The better rating of a fire department means lower insurance premiums.”

He learned that the Eure VFD maintains a 5 rating, among the best in the region. That translates into very affordable homeowner insurance polices for those living within the fire district.

“For a rural county we have great support from our community,” said Eure VFD member Bud Eure.

Causey’s trip to Gates and Currituck counties on June 19 finished his personal quest to visit all 100 counties in the state. That trip also included a visit to the Nationwide Insurance office in Gatesville. There he briefed agents on legislative goals, such as making auto rate adjustments and passing a Hands Free NC cell phone bill, and discussing the new My DOi smartphone app. The My DOi app provides agents with a convenient way to get information on continuing education and look up their National Producer Number (NPN).

 

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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