Letters to the Editor

Fire rating does matter

Kristy Miller’s comments (Letters, Aug. 16) regarding the levy lid Lift for North Whidbey Fire and Rescue require a response that will correct misstatements that she made and reinforce my previous statements.

Every homeowner’s insurance policy is impacted by the rating of their fire department. What determines this rating is a combination of the department’s staffing and apparatus (40 percent) but we also receive points in other categories such as our ability to supply water for fire suppression, public education and fire prevention and communication equipment. The fire department for North Whidbey outside of the city of Oak Harbor and NAS Whidbey is North Whidbey Fire and Rescue. In 1997 North Whidbey Fire and Rescue was rated “8” by the Washington Survey and Rating Bureau. After purchasing two new tenders (vehicles that carry water to an emergency site) in 1991 and four new fire engines in 1997 North Whidbey Fire and Rescue was able to meet the water flow requirement to receive a rating of “7” effective May 1, 1998. Since NWF&R does not have the availability of a large amount of hydrants we augment our water supply with tenders and engines.

In 2006 we achieved a class “6” rating. Although there are some parts of the Washington Survey and Rating Bureau rating scale that we as a department cannot influence, we do not want lack of equipment or facilities to cost NWF&R and the community our class “6” rating. As I said at the fire commissioners board meeting this would not take effect immediately but over a period of time it could affect our rating. These are not “scare tactics” as Ms. Miller claims.

NWF&R has never, and will never resort to such methods. The proposed levy lid lift is vitally important to the district and the community it serves. It costs a lot of money to maintain fire and emergency medical services to North Whidbey Island. Apparatus ages and needs to be replaced, buildings need to be maintained, staff needs to be paid and training needs to be current and ongoing. North Whidbey Fire and Rescue is asking to be able to collect 93 cents per $1,000 valuation. In 2004 we collected 92.3 cents per thousand. The goal of the board, staff and dedicated volunteers at North Whidbey Fire and Rescue is to maintain and improve the level of service that we provide to the community. We look forward to your support.

Chief Marvin D. Koorn

North Whidbey Fire and Rescue

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