The Halls Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department was recently awarded the best rating possible to help homeowners with their insurance costs. A press release from the North Carolina Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Wayne Goodwin recently announced the department’s accomplishment.
The Halls Department, the release states, has been awarded a 6/9E rating that will be effective Sunday, July 1, 2012. The inspection, conducted by officials with the Department of Insurance Office of State Fire Marshal, is required on a regular basis as part of the North Carolina Response Rating System (NCRRS). Among other things, the routine inspections look at proper staffing levels, sufficient equipment, proper maintenance of equipment, communications capabilities and availability of a water source.
The NCRRS rating system ranges from 1, which is the highest rating possible, up to 10, which is not recognized as a certified fire department by the state. Most rural departments fall into a 9S category. While lower ratings do not necessarily indicate poor service, a higher rating does suggest 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.
“I’d like to congratulate Chief (Lamar) Brewer for his department’s performance and for the hard work of all the department members,” noted Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin. “The citizens in the Halls Fire District should rest easy knowing they have a fine group of firefighters protecting them and their property in case of an emergency.”
Brewer, Halls fire chief for the past 24 years, is delighted at the new rating.
“I just cannot say enough for my firemen. They have all worked extremely hard and are very dedicated to making this department the best it can be. It is great to receive this 6 rating. It is not only a great accomplishment for this department, but is a great way to give back to the community, because people in our fire district could see as much as a 30 percent reduction in their homeowners insurance,” remarked Brewer.
The chief is quick to state that a lot of work went into earning the best homeowners insurance rating available. “We have 35 volunteers in our department and they average putting in 200 hours per year training. There is so much more to what we do other than go to fires and accidents. The majority of our time is spent training and doing the required paperwork to maintain this type of rating,” stressed Brewer.
“Some of the things we are required to do have to be done on a weekly basis, such as maintenance on the trucks and equipment. Other things have to be done on a regular basis, such as monthly or semi-annually. The amount of paperwork to support all of this must be done as well and submitted,” asserted the chief.
Fireman Wellie Jackson noted that people need to understand that the Halls Fire Department is made up totally of volunteers. “When a call comes in, we leave our jobs and our families to respond and help others. Our desire to serve others is a sacrifice we choose to make in order to help others,” stated Jackson.
Brewer also shared that he appreciated all the assistance his department receives from their mutual aid stations. “We could not have been as successful, nor reached this goal ,if it had not been for the help we receive from our mutual aid stations. When we have a big fire, they are ready to come in and assist us. We are ready also to assist them when they need and call on us,” said the chief.
Jackson added, “We are very fortunate to have excellent leadership in our department and the support of our community is the best anywhere to be found. We have one of the best chiefs in the county. I cannot express how we appreciate the time he spends at the department making it better. Chief Brewer gives the majority of his vacation and free time putting in time for the fire department so that we all look great. The department is grateful to everyone that helped us to attain this goal,” stated the firefighter.
The assessment is broken down into three categories, explained the chief: Communication, the actual department and water source. Brewer stressed that they had very little control over the communications and the water resources but they have to concentrate on the department part to help raise the rating.
“Because we have little or no control over the communications or water resources in our district, we have to spend countless hours training and performing the equipment checks on all our equipment. It causes us to have to invest in more equipment to be better prepared for emergency situations,” expressed Brewer.
The department’s most recent purchase was a used ladder truck they found in Philadelphia. It is, Brewer attested, in excellent condition.
“We do what we do because we want to make the place we live better for everyone in our district,” Brewer pointed out. “We all volunteer our time away from our jobs and family and we ask little in return. However, it would be nice if when people see a fireman, they express their appreciation for what we do. It is so little to ask and it is so greatly appreciated,” added the chief.