PROCTORVILLE — Residents serviced by the Orrum Volunteer Fire Department will enjoy lower fire insurance rates effective Dec. 1.
The department, recently in the news for the wrong reason, has lowered its fire rating, which insurance rates are partly based on.
“I’d like to congratulate Chief Britt for the department’s performance and for the department’s hard work of all the department members,” said Mike Causey, Insurance commissioner and state fire marshal. “The citizens in the towns 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 rating improved from class 9E/10 to 04/09E. The lower the rating, the better.
State law requires the Office of State Fire Marshal to inspect departments serving 100,000 people or less.
Fire Chief Steve Britt was pleased, especially following the recent arrests of some of his firefighters for arson.
“I hope we go from a black eye to heroes after the July 10 arrests,” he said. “We want the people in our fire district to know we have worked hard to get that 4 rating.”
The rating will save residents from 25 to 45 percent on their home insurance, Britt said.
Britt has been in the fire service industry for more than 32 years and a fire chief for nearly 15 years, he said. He said the new rating was a goal.
“Our department has been organized since 1978, nobody has tried to lower it. I’ve started the process about three years ago,” Britt said. “It takes a lot of paperwork and a lot of training. We also have to keep the hydrants, fire trucks and equipment maintained to help lower the rating.”
Servicing and testing their pumper trucks yearly, along with doing monthly maintenance to their fire engines is mandated by the Insurance Service Office, he said.
“It’s not easy to get a 4 rating. Besides our department, I believe Pine Terrace has a 4,” Britt said. “The Lumberton Fire Department’s fire suppression rate is a 3.”
The department will be holding an open house on Sept. 29 to share the news.
“Everyone is invited,” Britt said. “There will be hot dogs and hamburgers and activities for kids.”
A bounce house and a fire safety house will be available for the children, he said.
Britt is hopeful that his department will be looked at in a new light.
“We want to try to pull the public back to the fire department,” Britt said. “We want re-establish our relationship with the community. We are here to serve them, that is what we are here to do.”
Following a yearlong investigation, 10 volunteer firefighters with the Fairmont Rural and Orrum fire departments were arrested last month for allegedly setting fires to abandoned homes and woods throughout Robeson County.
There are 24 active firefighters in the Orrum battalion, Britt said. Three of the 10 charged were from the Orrum department.