The South Toe Board of Directors set the request for inspection as a five year goal but due to the hard work and dedication of the Board, the entire department, ISO committee and staff, the request was made two years early.
“It turned out to be a late Christmas present for tax payers of the South Toe Township. The rating does not help the department but it does benefit the tax payers that the department protects and serves,” said Assistant Chief Charlie Autrey. It was worth the wait because now not only the volunteers of the department, but everyone within the district will be able to benefit from improved response, new equipment, additional water points, extremely trained members, and also financially in these tough economic times in which we are living.
“We have had some of our local volunteers and board members who have contacted their insurance providers and were informed that they will see a $200 to $250 dollar annual savings,” said Assistant Chief Autrey.
No one will really know how much money this new rating will save tax payers within the fire district. If there are approximately 1000 homes in the district and each home owner saved $200 per year then the fire department will save tax payers nearly $200,000 per year across the South Toe District. The ratings are good for five years so this inspection should save over $1 million in insurance premiums in the South Toe District alone.
One local insurance agent stated, “This will be a huge savings for the community in South Toe on their home insurance premiums. The people of South Toe should make their insurance carrier aware of the change and discount and ask the carrier to calculate the savings. Going from a class 9 to a class 6 is a substantial savings. Congratulations to the South Toe Fire Department on the accomplishment, which is the result of a lot of hard work.”
Equipment added by the department to make the inspection successful include various types of extrication equipment including a new “jaws of life” positioned in the District, additional water points to decrease travel time, LDH (Large Diameter Hose) on both first due engines to handle high fire flows throughout the Fire District, and various hand tools and safety equipment. “What is more remarkable is that almost every piece of equipment purchased in preparation for the inspection was awarded to the department through various State and Federal Grants,” said Treasurer Gary Shuford.
Not only did the department achieve the class 6 rating, but barely missed a class 5 rating by a few minor points. “At this time we are in the process of requesting a debriefing from the Office of the State Fire Marshal concerning the recent rating to determine how South Toe can improve on our current score,” said Chief Tony Laws. “We know that the next couple of points will not be easy and the South Toe ISO committee will need to work even harder over the next ten years. We also learned what weak points the department/county need to work on, such as training equipment and props, communications and an additional tanker at station # 1.”
South Toe Fire and Rescue is committed to keeping the community safe. They have accomplished this by providing professional fire service, reliable fire apparatus and equipment, ample water supplies and good communications. The fire department will continue to refine its emergency response capability with the long-term goal of continuing to move toward achieving a lower classification. Board of Director Chairman Gary Murphy said “We are obviously very pleased with the grading. Knowing that over 99% of the area that we serve will be able to receive a Fire Protection Class 6 is fantastic! We have a lot of very dedicated volunteers within our organization who have made this possible.”
The department has assembled a planning committee to assemble flyers and a brochure to be mailed to every resident within the district. The brochure will include contact information for individuals wishing to submit an application to the agency, department response statistics and additional information for the upcoming 2010 fundraiser and open house.
South Toe, again, would like to thank Newdale Fire Department, Burnsville Fire Department and Parkway Fire & Rescue of Mitchell County. Chief Laws also would like to thank the Yancey County Firefighters Association assisting with county-wide standardized procedures and support.