Local fire departments maintain excellent rating

Published 6:28 pm Tuesday, June 2, 2020

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North Carolina Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Mike Causey announced last week that the Winton and Murfreesboro fire departments have completed their routine inspection and each maintained their respective 5/9E rating.

Causey notified the fire chief of each department (Zachary Askew for Winton; and Jeremy Brittenham for Murfreesboro) to inform them of the outcome of the inspections.

The inspection, conducted by officials with the Department of Insurance Office of State Fire Marshal (OSFM), is required on a regular basis as part of the North Carolina Response Rating System (NCRRS). Among other things, the routine inspections look for proper staffing levels, sufficient equipment, proper maintenance of equipment, communications capabilities, and availability of a water source.

Causey noted in his letters to Taylor and Brittenham that the ratings assigned to the Winton and Murfreesboro fire departments “does suggest that a department is overall better equipped to respond to fires in its district. Higher ratings can also significantly lower homeowners insurance rates in that fire district.”

Chris Smith, who serves as the Hertford County Emergency Management Director and Fire Marshal, said the homeowners whose property was previously listed in the 9S areas of both fire districts will see a significant reduction in the amount they pay annually for insurance.

“Because of the hard work and efforts of the Winton and Murfreesboro firefighters, that 9S area will be rated at a 5,” Smith said. “That will lead to much lower premiums for homeowners insurance.”

Smith explained the procedure both departments used to lower the rating.

“It’s all about water haul,” he said. “They had to show they could set-up a drop tank, haul water to keep it filled, and maintain a certain flow of water in the event of a structure fire. They did exactly that and I commend them for the man hours, the time and energy they invested into training to get to this level.”

Smith added that the homeowners in those respective fire districts whose property is located between the fifth and sixth mile coverage area of those departments will maintain a 9E rating. Thusly, their homeowner insurance premiums will remain the same.

“They can never get lower than 9, unless OFSM changes its rules,” Smith noted.

The effective date of the ratings for both fire departments is Sept. 1.

“I’d like to congratulate Winton Fire Chief Zachary Askew and Murfreesboro Fire Chief Jeremy Brittenham for the performance of their departments and for the hard work of all their members,” said Commissioner Causey. “The citizens in the these fire districts should rest easy knowing they have a fine group of firefighters protecting them and their property in case of an emergency.”

State law requires OSFM officials to inspect departments serving districts of 100,000 people or less, which makes up all but 12 of the state’s fire districts.

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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