09/07/05 — Nahunta Fire Dept. earns improved insurance rating

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Nahunta Fire Dept. earns improved insurance rating

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on September 7, 2005 1:45 PM

The Nahunta Volunteer Fire Department has been awarded an improved fire insurance rating after it was inspected by state officials.

Nahunta now has a 6 rating after earning a 7 in its last inspection in 1982.

"We're very thrilled," said Jay Howell, the Nahunta fire chief since 1978.

Getting good ratings is not new for Nahunta. Howell said Nahunta was the nation's first rural district to earn a municipal rating in 1978, when it went from a 9 to an 8 because of its improved water-hauling methods.

Howell said the new 6 rating was based on the department's improved water sources, training, equipment and the county communications system. He thanked county leaders for their help and noted that the department was just one part of a bigger team.

The new rating "couldn't be accomplished without good neighbors," he said, "and automatic aid from other departments. ... What Wayne County did was to build a system where we can get more tankers to the scene. This is a large part of the rating. I'm tickled."

Howell said homeowners should get slightly reduced premiums. He said such commercial customers as farmers, poultry and swine operators, tobacco growers, stores, churches and mills should net a little bigger saving. He suggested customers should contact their insurance agents about a possible refund.

Howell said Nahunta's water system has been improved greatly over the last 23 years. In the past, the department was graded on stationary sources such as ponds and creeks. Now the district has a public water system with fire hydrants.

The chief explained that there were not enough hydrants close enough together to reach all homes, but the hydrants could be used to supply his tankers and those from mutual-aid departments.

"I'd like to congratulate Chief (Jay) Howell for his department's performance and for the hard work of all of the department members," state Insurance Commissioner Jim Long said in making the announcement.

"The citizens in the Nahunta Fire District should rest easy knowing they have a fine group of firefighters protecting them and their property in case of an emergency," Long said.

The inspection was conducted by officials of the state fire marshal's office. It is required on a regular basis as part of the N.C. Response Rating System, or NCRRS.

The inspectors look for proper staffing levels, sufficient equipment, proper maintenance of equipment, communications capabilities and availability of water sources.

The NCRRS ratings system ranges from 1, the highest, to 10, which is not recognized by the state as a certified fire department. Most rural departments fall in the 9S category.