11/16/04 — Thoroughfare VFD gets better improves rating

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Thoroughfare VFD gets better improves rating

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on November 16, 2004 2:00 PM

For the first time since it was established in the early 1980s, the Thoroughfare Volunteer Fire Department has earned an insurance rating better than the minimum.

The result may be a savings of 15 to 20 percent next year in insurance costs for property owners in the 19-square-mile district, southwest of Goldsboro.

Fire Chief Delbert Edwards attributed the improvement to the work by the 23 department volunteers.

"It takes a lot of work to operate a department efficiently and to provide good service to the community," he said.

The members are required to meet minimum training standards, keep records and maintain their equipment, vehicles and hydrants. Most members, the chief said, more than double the required 36 hours of annual training.

Last summer, Edwards said the department had asked for an inspection because he thought that it had improved its fire coverage since 1998. An inspector from the state Fire Marshal's Office spent four days in June, surveying the department's equipment and ability to fight fires.

On the last day, Thoroughfare firefighters did a water haul exercise to show how much water they could provide in a tanker relay. Smith Chapel, Dudley, Arrington, Mar Mac, Grantham, Jordans Chapel and Mount Olive also took part.

After the inspection, Thoroughfare's rating was improved from a 9S to a 7. Edwards was notified of the ratings change in a recent letter from the state Department of Insurance. Instead of being inspected every three years because of its minimum rating, the department will be inspected only every five years. Edwards, however, noted that improvements could still be made without much additional cost.

The old 9S rating, the fire chief said, resulted from a lack of equipment, manpower, tax base and money in the largely rural district that has only about 1,200 residents. But Thoroughfare is growing with new subdivisions that should help the tax base and the departmental budget.

"The citizens of the Thoroughfare District should rest easy," Insurance Commissioner Jim Long said, "knowing they have a fine group of firefighters protecting their lives and property in case of an emergency."