BEAUFORT – Carteret County Commissioners, responding to a request made by residents of Stanton Landing that coverage for their development be moved from the North River Volunteer Fire Department (VFD) to the Beaufort fire district, paid a special site visit to the North River facility Friday morning to consider the impacts of the request.
Stanton Landing, a residential development near the Adams Creek community off N.C. Highway 101, is a little more than a mile distant from the Beaufort Fire Department providing coverage for the area, yet any first responses for fire coverage is provided by the North River Volunteer Fire Department which is more than five miles away on the North River Road.
The commissioners were prepared to accept the request at their April 17 meeting with the anticipation that the move, an administrative designation, would take place July 1. That action was tabled when representatives of the North River VFD expressed their opposition, noting that the change would financially hurt their operation due to loss tax revenue.
Improved insurance ratings were among the expressed concerns of the Stanton Landing residents who contend that moving coverage to the Beaufort fire district will result in immediate reduction of fire insurance premiums.
Insurance companies use criteria established by the Insurance Service Office (ISO) to determine insurance ratings. The three primary criteria in ISO ratings involves fire department operations and training, emergency communications systems and water supply.
The biggest concern for the North River department, presented by Fire Chief Alton Davis, explained that should Stanton Landing remain within Beaufort’s fire district, North River would experience a reduction in their taxable revenue. Since North River is solely volunteer, the fire department makes its revenue through property tax. Without Stanton Landing and its 91 homes, the fire department loses significant funding, $14-15,000 from the budget.
In their presentation to the commissioners, the North River representatives stated that their contention also lies within North River’s fire district continual geography coverage loss with a lack in prior notification to the potential change.
After a somewhat heated and long discussion, the commissioners voted to revisit the issue once enough concrete information and data were gathered. Friday morning, April 28, the commissioners responded to an invitation from the Stanton Landing residents to meet at the North River Fire Department to further discuss the issue.
Nick Wilson notified the media immediately after the commissioners agreed to attend out of concern that a quorum of commissioners could be present. Five of seven commissioners attended. The five commissioners present were Chairman Jimmy Farrington, Bob Cavanaugh, Chris Chadwick, David Quinn and Ed Wheatly. Opinions varied among commissioners on whether or not Stanton Landing should be given back to North River.
Commissioner Wheatly made the argument that keeping Stanton Landing in Beaufort would be more beneficial to those individuals since Beaufort is manned 24/7, in which their response time is faster.
“I see keeping Stanton Landing in Beaufort as no harm, no foul,” he said. “North River is volunteer. Beaufort has men 24/7. The response time is faster, and the location is more accessible. This makes the most sense for Stanton Landing – it is the right thing to do.”
Wheatly made these comments on the fact that Stanton Landing is one mile from Beaufort Fire Station No. 2 while five miles from the North River Fire Department.
Chairman Farrington briefly mentioned that if the VFD wants a lower ISO rating, Stanton Landing will need to remain with Beaufort’s district.
During the conversation, however, commissioners Chadwick and Quinn proposed alternative plans.
Commissioner Chadwick proposed the notion that if Stanton Landing does remain in Beaufort’s district, the county would work to give more land and geography to North River.
Commissioner Quinn proposed the notion that if North River can develop a water shuttle program that can efficiently and quickly cover Stanton Landing’s town radius, North River can keep Stanton Landing in its district, a way of proving North River’s capabilities. An efficient water haul program would also help North River achieve its desired ISO rating of 6.
Water shuttle operations in firefighting is the process in which tanker trucks deliver water to an emergency scene. Firemen travel to a filling site, reload the tankers with water and return to an emergency scene to dump again. Water shuttle operations rely on constant movement of team members between an emergency scene and the water supply source. Creating an efficient operation would be beneficial for North River and its desired outcome of Stanton Landing’s redistricting.
The general consensus of North River volunteers and Stanton Landing residents found these propositions fair and will reconvene to finalize a decision after the fire department’s next inspection, which will help lower its ISO rating as well. The issue is scheduled for discussion at the May 15 county commissioners meeting.
Sure Stanton Landing may be less than a mile away, but my home is even closer, less than 7/10's of a mile, but im still under North River if this passes. Havening the the water shuttle would benefit me, but honestly am not sure why beaufort added a No. 2 Station except for the industrial park. So until the residential area grows beyond that tax bracket, which it is doing fast, we need more than a volunteer fire station and Stanton Landing should stay part of North River. Which they want out because they know North River is a volunteer station.
But I guess it comes down to who has more money and how we pocket the commissioners, because I know my commissioner doesn't have my best interest in mind. Its all about the money for him which would include Stanton Landing that would vote for him again just because he said yes to adding them to the No. 2 Beaufort Fire. However, my home istn't a $500k home but I still have to pay all the same utilities as they do including taxes (based on property value) so until this area grows beyond North River it should stay the same, they shouldn't get special treatment. Maybe look at having North River a paid firehouse like Beaufort No. 2 is. I would be willing to pay the extra tax to have a paid firehouse within my distric than knowing my commissioner just wants votes.
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