Otway Fire Department achieves lower fire rating

A sign outside the Otway Fire & Rescue Department proclaims the good news about the department’s lowered fire rating, which means lower insurance premiums for homeowners. (Otway Fire & Rescue Department photo)

OTWAY — For the first time in the agency’s history, the Otway Fire & Rescue Department achieved a lower insurance rating for the Otway fire district.

N.C. Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Mike Causey announced the department’s new rating Wednesday. According to a release, the Office of the State Fire Marshal routinely inspects departments and assigns ratings based on factors such as staffing levels, sufficient equipment, proper maintenance of equipment, communications capabilities and availability of a water source, with the lower the number the better the rating.

The Otway Fire & Rescue Department achieved a 5 rating, down from its previous rating of 9S. The new rating translates to lower insurance premiums for homeowners within the fire district, with new rates becoming effective Tuesday, Sept. 1.

“I’d like to congratulate Chief (Brian) Davis for the department’s performance and for the hard work of all the department members,” Mr. Causey said in the release. “The citizens in 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.”

Otway Fire Chief Brian Davis said he made it one of his priorities to lower the fire rating when he became chief about three years ago.

“In our history, no one had tried to improve the rating,” he said. “And that’s not to fault anyone, it’s a lot of hard work to do it.”

Chief Davis said one of the biggest things the department did to lower its rating was establish about 20 new water points throughout the community. Since Otway doesn’t have traditional fire hydrants, the strategically placed water points are spots where trucks can access a water source for fighting fires.

Another major task was identifying all the commercial buildings in town so the department knows the square footage, the closest water point and a point of contact in the case of an emergency. In addition, the department recently purchased new air packs and has been keeping up to date on training and record keeping.

Chief Davis thanked his crew and the community for their support of the department over the years. He also said the Harkers Island Fire & Rescue Department and Marshallberg Volunteer Fire Department were instrumental in helping Otway gets its rating because assist each other.

“Really, it’s a community deal,” he said.

Chief Davis noted the EMS side of the department has also seen improvements recently with the addition of three full-time paramedics. Also, just this month the department was able to move back into its permanent building after it was damaged during Hurricane Florence in September 2018.

“All in all as a department that’s a lot of big strides we’ve made in a short period of time,” he said. “…It’s something we’re proud of and we hope to maintain.”

 

Contact Elise Clouser at elise@thenewstimes.com; by phone at 252-726-7081 ext. 229; or follow on Twitter @eliseccnt.

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