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Bostian Heights receives improved fire rating in latest review

By Josh Bergeron

josh.bergeron@salisburypost.com

Bostian Heights Fire Department’s rating is going down, which is good news for the fire department and, potentially, insurance rates.

In late September, state Fire Marshal Wayne Goodwin announced a class-five rating for the department. The newest rating is a marked increase from its previous rating of six in 1999 — when the department was last evaluated. The rating is effective Jan. 1, 2015.

Fire ratings range from one, which is the best, to 10, which is considered the worst. Most rural departments, such as Bostian Heights fall into the nine category.

Property located in the Bostian Heights Fire District — starting at Webb Road on the eastern side of I-85 and ending near Old Beatty Ford Road on the eastern side of Interstate 85 — and is within five miles of the fire station will receive a class five protection. Property located more than five miles from the station will receive a 9E rating. The fire district includes more than 11,000 people.

Bostian Heights Fire Chief Mike Zimmerman said the newest ranking is a huge step forward for the department, which has been around for 55 years.

“It used to be that a class five was unheard of for a rural department,” Zimmerman said. “A class six was an excellent rating for a rural department. When we got our rating back in 1999 we were shooting for a seven. Well we got then a six and we about fell over.”

Some of the reasons for the rating include increased availability of water points, such as ponds; the county’s 911 center, increased training, updated equipment and record keeping.

Zimmerman said he was unsure of exactly how much money a class-five rating would save residents of the Bostian Heights Fire District, but a difference in property insurance would exist.

Bostian Height’s President Mary Alice Carpenter cited other positive effects that the increased rating could have on the fire department’s district.

“The financial impact of this new rating is very important, but just as important is the fact that the citizens living in and traveling through our fire district should enjoy the reassurance that the Bostian Heights Fire Department is providing a higher level of service and utilizing a combination of full-time, paid and volunteer staff that many communities would love to have,” Carpenter said.

Ratings, which previously took place every 15 years, now take place every five years, Zimmerman said. He’s already got a few ideas about how the fire department might move up another notch when the next review comes around. He said the department only missed getting a four rating by about five points.

“As far as training, we should be able to enhance our scores there,” he said. “We’ll probably be able to get a point more out of communications because the communications center isn’t finished yet. The other thing that hurts us is that we probably need some more stations. In the eyes of the state, we probably need two more stations.”

Zimmerman said adding two more stations would likely be too costly to accomplish in five years.

Bostian heights is the second rural fire department in rowan County to receive a class five rating utilizing rural water supply, with Franklin Township being the first.

Of all the 1,723 municipal and rural fire departments in North Carolina, 372 are ranked as class five fire departments and 220 are ranked from a class one to a class four, including Salisbury, Kannapolis, Faith, Granite Quarry and Landis.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246

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