Puppy Creek Fire Department and the City of Raeford Fire Department earned one of the highest ratings possible in their recent state inspections.
The fire departments are now two of only 38 fire stations in North Carolina to score as highly on the rating scale, officials said.
The better rating means better insurance rates for commercial buildings in those districts, Puppy Creek Assistant Fire Chief Travis Bunce said. Homeowners in those districts are already receiving the lowest possible homeowners’ insurance rate based on the fire response rating scale.
The City of Raeford Fire Department went from a fire suppression rating of four to a rating of two, according to the department. Puppy Creek went from a fire suppression rating of six to a rating of two, which is “a huge achievement,” assistant chief Jason Sawyer said in an email. The State Fire Marshall’s office conducted the periodic inspections.
The NCRRS rating system ranges from one (highest) to 10 (not recognized as a certified fire department by the state). Most rural departments fall into the 9S category, according to the OSFM.
The inspections are required on a regular basis as part of the North Carolina Response Rating System. Among other things, the routine inspections look for proper staffing levels, sufficient equipment, proper equipment maintenance, communications capabilities and availability of a water source.
The inspectors also look at the number of training hours, standard operating procedures and whether departments actually follow through with policies when they’re working in the field.
The county and neighboring fire departments deserve some of the credit too, Bunce said. Some things that individual departments don’t have any control over, such as 911 communications, play a role in determining the score. Hoke County’s 911 communications nearly maxed out its score during the inspection.
“They did an outstanding job,” Bunce said.
The county also helped by conducting maintenance on fire hydrants to make sure they were in good working order.
Lower ratings do not necessarily indicate poor service, but a higher rating does suggest that a department is overall better equipped to respond to fires in its district, the state said in a press statement.
State Fire Marshal Mike Causey praised firefighters for their hard work.
“The citizens in the town of these districts should rest easy knowing they have a fine group of firefighters protecting them and their property in case of an emergency,” Causey said in a statement.
The rating goes into effect on August 1 of this year. Commercial structure owners in the Raeford and Puppy Creek fire districts can contact their insurance company to discuss the effect of the new rating on their insurance rate.