HOFFMAN — Residents in the northeastern section of the county should see their homeowner’s insurance decrease following a favorable inspection by the N.C. Department of Insurance and the Office of the State Fire Marshal.
The Hoffman Volunteer Fire Department was recently reduced from a Class 6 fire suppression rating to a Class 5 rating after its first inspection since 2013, according to Chief Frank McKay.
State law requires officials to inspect departments serving districts of 100,000 people or less, which makes up all but 12 of the state’s fire districts, according to the DOI.
“I commend you and your department for your dedication and commitment to making your community a safer place to live,” Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey said in an Aug. 29 letter to McKay.
“The citizens … should rest easy knowing they have a fine group of firefighters protecting them and their property in case of an emergency,” Causey said in a press release the same day.
The rating system ranges from 1 (being the highest) to 10, according to the DOI, with most rural departments being rated a 9. Lower ratings don’t necessarily equate to poor service, but a higher rating means the department is better equipped to respond to fires.
“We’re very happy for the 5,” McKay said.
Water supply accounts for 40 percent of the rating inspection, which is something most departments don’t have a lot of control over, according to McKay.
“We’re fortunate to have hydrants in our area,” he said.
The department itself counts for half of the inspection, including personnel and equipment, he added.
The department, which services approximately 35 square miles, has two stations — one in Hoffman, one in Marston — 25 volunteers, and nine vehicles: four pumpers, two equipment trucks, one tanker, one brush truck and one ambulance.
Communication accounts for 10 percent and McKay thinks the county’s relatively new 911 center contributed to that part of the inspection.
The Derby and Northside volunteer fire departments automatically respond for mutual aid.
“We’re appreciative of what they did to help us (improve the rating),” McKay said.
According to the Office of the State Fire Marshal, the new rating puts Hoffman on par with several other county departments: East Rockingham, Cordova, Hamlet and Ellerbe.
Rockingham, rated at 3, has the highest in the county, while Northside is rated at 6, and Mountain Creek and Derby are both rated at 9.
The new rating goes into effect Dec. 1.