ASHEBORO — When the state insurance commissioner arrives to announce a fire department’s ISO rating, you know it must be good news.
That was the case on March 9 when Mike Causey, the state’s insurance commissioner and fire marshal, showed up at Asheboro Fire and Rescue Department’s Station 1 to tell Chief Willie Summers that the latest inspection put them at Level 1, the highest rating possible.
“It takes a team effort,” Causey told the gathering of B Shift firefighters, City Council members and others. “A rating is very difficult to get from Level 3 to 2 or from 2 to 1. You can miss by a fraction of a point. It’s one thing to get to a certain level. Then you have to maintain it.
“Your official effective date, May 1, 2023, you’ve gone to a Class 1 rating,” Causey said.
Summers, accepting the official rating document, said, “This is a collaboration of many entities,” including support of the City Council and a number of city departments, not to mention members of the Fire Department. “It’s a testament to the dedication of the men and women of the Fire Department. I’m honored and humbled to serve with you.”
It was stressed that of the more than 1,200 fire departments in North Carolina, only 22 have received the Class 1 rating. That’s less than 2 percent.
“You’ve earned it,” Causey said, “but you’ve got to keep it.”
Mayor David Smith said, “It’s a pleasure to congratulate you for your hard work. The firefighters deserve our accolades. I’m so proud of what you do for our community.”
The rating is based on inspections by officials with the Department of Insurance Office of State Fire Marshal. Inspections of fire departments are required on a regular basis as part of the NC Response Rating System (NCRRS). Inspections look for proper staffing levels, sufficient equipment, proper maintenance of equipment, communications capabilities and availability of a water source, among other criteria.
The rating system ranges from 1, the highest, to 10, with most rural fire departments falling into the 9 category. A higher rating suggests that a department is better equipped to respond to fires and can significantly lower homeowners’ insurance rates in the district.
“I’d like to congratulate Chief Summers for the department’s performance and for the hard work of all the department members,” Causey said. “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.”