Improved fire suppression ratings approved for several Wilkes County fire districts, announced in a Dec. 23 Wilkes Journal-Patriot article, also included better ratings for the Millers Creek and Cricket districts.

Areas within five miles of the Millers Creek Fire Station and within five miles of Millers Creek’s substation in Purlear that previously had a fire suppression rating of 9 will now have a rating of 5, said Millers Creek Fire Chief Robbie Bolin.

Likewise, areas within five miles of the Cricket Fire Station that had a 9 will now have a 5.

The latest changes in ratings for all Wilkes districts are effective April 1, 2021.

Bolin said one homeowner in his district told him going from a 9 to a 5 would lower her homeowner’s insurance premium by $300 to $400 per year.

He said improving from a 9 to a 5 in both Millers Creek and Cricket was based on how quickly firefighters shuttled water and by volumes of water available for fighting fires.

Most of the rest of the Millers Creek and Cricket districts were already a 5.

The private Insurance Services Office (ISO) inspects fire departments and rates them based on a Fire Suppression Rating Schedule from the N.C. Department of Insurance.

Nine Wilkes fire departments were inspected in October. This included timing them when they shuttled water at the Lowe’s Park at River’s Edge.

This schedule considers emergency communications, fire department (including equipment and firefighter training hours) and available water supply. It also recognizes efforts fire prevention, public fire safety education and fire investigation efforts.

ISO rates fire departments on a scale of one to 10, with one being the best. These ratings, typically in effect for about five years, are provided to insurance companies to determine homeowner’s insurance premiums.

Areas of a fire district more than five miles but up to six miles from a fire station or substation can’t be changed from a 9 rating. The Millers Creek District but not Cricket includes some of these areas.

Areas more than six miles from a station or substation can’t be in a fire district and have a 10 rating. Several areas of Wilkes are in no man’s land but are still serviced by fire departments.

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