New fire rating will affect insurance — for the good

Published 8:10 pm Tuesday, March 13, 2018


Washington’s fire suppression rating has gone down, and in direct proportion many insurance premiums will go down.

Last week, Washington Fire Chief Robbie Rose received notification from North Carolina Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Mike Causey that Washington’s new fire suppression rating went from a 5 to a 3 on a 1-to-10 scale, with 1 being the highest rating.

“I’d like to congratulate Chief Rose for the department’s performance and for the hard work of all the department members,” Causey wrote in a press release. “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.”

“We’ve been a 5 for a really long time — for my entire 29 years,” Rose said. “The number of departments in the state that are 1, 2 and 3 are not a lot. It’s a significant improvement for us, for a department this size, in a city this size.”

According to Bragaw & Co. President Walker Lynch, the new rating could affect every personal and commercial property insurance policy within the Washington Fire Department’s coverage area, which also includes Washington Park, as Washington Park contracts with the city to provide fire services, and Washington-Warren Field.

“The rating is based on the protection class, and anytime we can lower that protection class will also lower the premium, so it’s a good thing,” Lynch said.

Rose said much of the improved rating came from educational outreach, the upgrading of equipment, establishing an automatic mutual aid protocol with departments countywide, and an increased focus on training, with the assistance of the training facility at Beaufort County Community College.

“It’s certainly been a benefit to us because it’s allowed us to do some types of training for things that they’re looking for. So, that facility has definitely been an asset,” Rose said.

Among other things, inspectors for the state are looking for proper staffing levels, sufficient equipment, proper maintenance of the equipment, communications capabilities and availability of a water source.

“It has to do a lot with your water supply system, and we’ve got a great water supply system in the city,” Rose said.

Rose said the investments in the department made by the Washington City Council and city manager were also key to the new rating.

“It’s a lot of parts and pieces that have made this happen,” Rose said.

The new ratings will go into effect in July.

“The actual rates are going to be effective July 1,” Lynch said. “That adjustment should be made in their policy and that should be reflected in their premium — we encourage people to call their insurance companies.”