Sep. 27—FAIRMONT — Residents within a 5-mile radius of Whitehouse Volunteer Fire Department and its substation can pay less soon for homeowner's insurance thanks to an improved rating of the department by the Office of the State Fire Marshal.
The fire department's rating went from a 9 to 5, after a June 28 inspection by state officials, according to Fire Chief Richie Adams, a member of the department. The new score is based on a rating system of 1 to 10, in which 1 is the highest score.
The new rating is effective Dec. 1, according to Barry Smith, assistant director of Public Information at the N.C. Department of Insurance. It will help lower insurance premiums for homeowners and businesses situated near the department, located at 14759 N.C. 41 S. in Fairmont.
Residents near the department's substation located at 1022 Gerald Road in Fairmont also can see a decrease in insurance rates, Adams said. The substation serves Gaddy's Township.
"This is a big deal for the Whitehouse Volunteer Fire Department. When you see an improvement from a 9 to a 5, you know this is a dedicated team with the ability to assist any resident with an emergency," said Mike Causey, state insurance commissioner and fire marshal.
The improved rating also means much more than lower insurance rates, Causey said.
"The residents should feel safer and more secure because it demonstrates a better response time and a better ability to respond to any type of emergency in the fire district," Causey added.
The new rating is a result of hard work that has been underway since 2015 to upgrade equipment by purchasing a new hose, air packs, turnout gear and radios, Adams said. — Adams credits each of the 33 volunteer members for their help in the process.
"I'd like to thank 'em for all their hard work," Adams said. "This was a team effort."
The equipment was purchased through grant funding through the N.C. Department of Insurance, U.S. Department of Agriculture and Assistance to Firefighters Grants Program, Adams said.
Adams estimated the grant funding to total about $520,000.
The fire department celebrated the new rating earlier this month with a ceremony that showed appreciation to others for their help and partnership in improving the fire department and its service to the community, Adams said.
During the ceremony, which was held on Sept. 14, the department recognized other people for their partnerships with the department including Bobby Davis, a farmer who donated land in 2015 to the department for the operation of its substation on Gerald Road.
Also recognized during the ceremony were Bobby Davis, Rex Oxendine, the town of Marietta, Marshall's Friendly Stop, Bud's Corner, Rod Sampson, Tim Tatum, former Robeson County Commissioner Roger Oxendine, the late Robeson County Commissioner Burlester Campbell represented by his wife Commissioner Pauline Campbell and Dorsey Landscaping, according to Adams.