Clayton Homeowners to Save Hundreds
Thanks to New Fire Ratings
Better protection = Better Insurance Premiums
Clayton, November 28, 2012
You already know that the Clayton Fire Department can help save your life and save your home from burning down, but did you realize they can also save you MONEY!?
The Clayton Fire Department is proud to announce it has just achieved improved ratings from the North Carolina Department of Insurance’s Office of the State Fire Marshal – ratings that most insurance companies use to determine how much they’ll charge to insure your home or business.
The improved ratings are not only great news for those who live within town limits, but also for those who live in the Claytex Fire District, which includes the areas outside town limits that are protected by the Clayton Fire Department. This achievement not only saves homeowners money, more importantly, it makes their lives safer.
“We’re very proud of being able to reduce our fire insurance rating,” said Clayton Fire Chief Lee Barbee. “Every member of this team had a piece of it…everyone did their jobs. That’s what we need to be proud of…we were ready. We seized this opportunity to provide benefit to the public.”
The Office of the State Fire Marshal considers things like how long it takes firefighters to get to your home, how big of an area the town covers, the water pressure, the condition of the hydrants and how much training firefighters receive. The fire insurance classifications range from 1 to 10, with a 1 being the best.
Inside town limits, Clayton improved from a Class 5 rating to a Class 4 rating. Businesses in particular may benefit from this change since ratings under 5 can bring significant savings for commercial structures.
Outside town limits, the ratings improved from a Class 5/9 split rating to a straight 5 rating…a change that could result in hundreds of dollars in savings for some homeowners. Previously, homes within 5 miles of a fire station and within 1,000 feet of a hydrant received a 5 rating. But homes that were within 5 miles of a fire station but NOT within 1,000 of a hydrant received a 9 rating. Now everyone within 5 miles regardless of how far they live from a hydrant receives a 5.
We checked with a local insurance agent and based on their rates, a $200,000 home is currently charged an $895 annual premium under a 9 rating. With the new 5 rating, that same home will see its premium reduced to $624! That’s a savings of almost $300 a year!
How did the Clayton Fire Department achieve such an incredible improvement? One way, of course, would be to install dozens of new hydrants so that everyone under Clayton’s protection lives within 1,000 feet of a hydrant. While that is, indeed, a long-term goal of the Fire Department, it’s not financially possible to do immediately. Instead, the Fire Department agreed to be rated based on how quickly and efficiently they can haul water to a scene when a hydrant is not available. Firefighters were under a lot of pressure but wowed the inspector.
“We had five minutes to have two engines pull up to a fire site, deploy a 2,000 gallon foldable drop tank, deploy the hose, get water into the tank and supply the line with water, “ explains Jason Dean, the Clayton Fire Department’s Training and Safety Officer. “ It took our team 49 seconds to get water in the tank and another 12 seconds to supply the line for a total of 1 minute 2 seconds. It’s one of the fastest times the inspector said he’d ever seen!”
Inspectors review years of records as part of the re-classification process and an official with the NC Department of Insurance’s Office of State Fire Marshal spent five days with the Clayton Fire Department in June conducting inspections. To give you an idea of how strenuous and unpredictable that process can be, at one point the inspector pulled out a map of Clayton, landed his finger randomly on a clump of tobacco barns and firefighters had to respond immediately with their exact plan to supply water to that site for a potential fire.
“I’d like to congratulate Chief Barbee for his department’s performance and for the hard work of all the department members, “ said North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin. “The citizens in the Town of Clayton should rest easy knowing they have a fine group of firefighters protecting them and their property in case of emergency.”
“We have been preparing every single day for this inspection…from the long-term fire prevention projects we’ve created, to the daily maintenance we perform on equipment, to our extensive record keeping…we built it all into our daily routine, it’s what’s expected, “ said Barbee. “We didn’t just jump up and say, ‘Uh oh, we have an inspection coming up in 6 months!’ We improved because the quality of our work and the quality of training that we’ve done on a daily basis for years. It’s instilled from Day One when we hire new staff.”
If there’s a perception that firefighters sit around all day waiting for a fire, the Clayton Fire Department blows that myth out of the water. Every time a firefighter reports to duty, whether full-time or part-time, they are documenting their every move. They run tests on ladders, pumps, fire engines and even have to keep records of how many times they use a hose. Chief Barbee is also credited with starting a hydrant maintenance program that has helped to keep more than 1,200 town and county hydrants in top working shape. At least one firefighter per shift works for months making sure every single fire hydrant is checked for flow and water pressure, but is also re-painted bright red and cleared of overgrowth and debris so that there’s no delay when a fire breaks out. The team also conducts dozens of pre-plan surveys of commercial structures, where firefighters visit sites around town to map out the interior buildings, access to water supply and create an overall strategy for responding to an emergency at that site.
When they’re not working on equipment testing and maintenance, full and part-time firefighters are in training. In one year, Clayton firefighters will complete a total of 11,000 training hours. That training can range from classroom time to live fire drills involving structures in Clayton.
“The training we do is quality training and it’s come a long way in the last several years,” said Training Officer Jason Dean. “We have 31 certified instructors in the Fire Department which means they are so advanced in their specialty they are qualified to teach it…be it technical rescue, emergency vehicle driving, or hazardous materials response.”
Clayton Fire Department also protects areas that are more than 5 miles from a fire station but not more than 6 miles. The rating in those area remains at a 9 rating.
The town was last graded in 1997. The new rates take effect January 1, 2013. If you’re a resident or a business owner you need to contact your insurance company to find out what kind of changes will result from the improved ratings.