From staff reports
PINETOPS — The Pinetops Fire Department has earned a Class 3 fire response rating, making this Edgecombe County town the fourth-smallest North Carolina community to achieve the high mark.
Officials were notified of the new rating in late July following an annual inspection. The new response rating, which could result in savings on residents’ homeowner insurance premiums, takes effect Nov. 1.
“I’d like to congratulate Chief (Hubert S.) Burress for the department’s performance and for the hard work of all the department members,” N.C. Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Mike Causey said in a news 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.”
Equivalent to ISO ratings named for the Insurance Services Office, the N.C. Response Rating System ranks fire departments from Class 1 at the highest to Class 10 at the lowest. Most rural departments receive a 9S rating, according to the state fire marshal’s office.
Ratings are based on inspections where state officials check for proper staffing levels, sufficient equipment, proper maintenance, communications capabilities and water source availability.
“While lower ratings do not necessarily indicate poor service, a higher rating does suggest that a department is overall better equipped to respond to fires in its district,” a letter from the N.C. Office of the State Fire Marshal explains. “Higher ratings can also significantly lower homeowners insurance rates in that fire district.”
Burress provided information showing Pinetops, with 1,350 residents, is the fourth-smallest town by population to earn the Class 3 ranting. The Bailey Fire Department serves North Carolina’s smallest Class 3-rated community with 561 people.