ALLENTON — The Allenton Volunteer Fire Department recently received a higher response rating from state fire officials, an designation that could lower insurance rates for residents in the fire district.
“This is a great thing. We’re saving homeowners money,” said Chief Tom Taylor, who is also a Robeson County commissioner. “That’s why we do all of the hard work and training. It’s to save people in our community as much as we can.”
The rating is determined as part of the North Carolina Response Rating System following routine, comprehensive inspections by officials with the Office of the State Fire Marshal, which is a unit of the state Department of Insurance. Among other things, inspectors evaluate departments on staffing levels, variety of equipment, maintenance of equipment, communication capabilities, and availability of a water source.
The rating system ranges from one, the highest level, to 10, a level at which a fire department is not recognized as being certified by the state.
According to the Fire Marshal’s Office, the Allenton Volunteer Fire Department, which provides fire protection in Wisharts, received a 5/9E rating, one step higher than its current 6/9E rating. The rating will become effective on Jan. 1.
“While lower ratings do not necessarily indicate poor service, a higher rating does suggest that a department is overall better equipped to respond to fires in its district,” a statement from the Office of State Fire Marshal reads. “Higher ratings can also significantly lower homeowners insurance rates in that fire district.”
State law requires that the Office of the State Fire Marshal inspect fire departments that serve districts with a population of 100,000 people or less. All but six of North Carolina fire districts fall into this category, according to state fire officials.
“I’d like to congratulate Chief Taylor for the department’s performance and for the hard work of all the department members,” Wayne Goodwin, the state Insurance Commissioner and Fire Marshal, said in a statement. “The citizens in this district should rest easy knowing they have a fine group of firefighters protecting them and their property in case of an emergency.”
According to Taylor, Allenton’s fire chief for the past 27 years, his department currently has a roster of about 38 firefighters.
“It takes a special breed of people to be firefighters and rescue workers,” Taylor said.
Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-5165.