The Waxhaw Community Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad, Inc. (WVFD) underwent a fire protection classification inspection by the North Carolina Office of the State Fire Marshal (NCOSFM) on September 4th and 5th of this year. This inspection objectively measures a fire department’s ability to protect its community from the risks of fire. The inspection measures, among other things, proper staffing levels, response times, station locations and apparatus deployment. Sufficient equipment, proper maintenance of that equipment, fire department training, communications capabilities, and the availability of sufficient water to extinguish fires is also measured in accordance with the appropriate National Fire Protection Association Standard.
The rating system has 10 categories with a rating of 10 indicating there is no certified fire protection and a rating of 1 being the highest achievable rating. Most rural fire districts are rated in the 9S category, which is the minimum rating a certified fire department can achieve. While a rating closer to 10 does not necessarily indicate poor service, a rating closer to 1 does suggest a department is overall better equipped to respond to fires in its district. A rating closer to 1 may significantly lower homeowners insurance rates in the fire district.
The WVFD had been rated as a Class 6/9S/9E, which meant that homeowners within 1,000 feet of a hydrant and within 5 miles of a station had a Fire Protection Rating of 6, while all other homeowners within 5 miles of a station had a rating of 9S and those within 6 miles of a station had a rating of 9E.
During the inspection the WVFD successfully demonstrated their ability to move water from a water source (hydrant) to the location of the fire, thus sustaining the needed fire flow. The ability to move water was crucial in bringing all properties within 5 miles of a station to the same rating. The WVFD also scored highly on the number and pump capacity of their engine companies, along with our partnerships with Union County Communications and the Union County Fire Marshal’s Office.
The overall impact of the above categories, as well as several others, led to an overall Fire Protection Class Rating, effective March 1, 2018, of 4/9E. The new rating places the WVFD in the top 20% of fire departments in North Carolina. NCOSFM Commissioner Mike Causey stated, “I’d like to congratulate Chief Sharpe for the department’s performance and for the hard work of all the department members. The citizens of 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.”
The change in class from 6/9S/9E to 4/9E indicates that, effective March 1, 2018, all properties within 5 miles of a fire station will be credited with a Class 4 rating and may see significant savings in the annual property insurance premiums. Only those properties currently beyond 5 miles of a fire station will remain rated at the minimum rating for a certified fire department (Class 9E).
Upon receipt of the news, Chief Sharpe said, “This improvement in our rating is the direct result of the dedication and hard work of the members of the WVFD. A significant number of the members volunteer their time to serve their community. This is a testament to the commitment of these members to the mission of serving the Waxhaw Fire District. I am extremely proud of their efforts and congratulate each of them for this very impressive accomplishment.”