LAURINBURG — Recent inspections by the Office of the State Fire Marshal earned the Laurinburg Fire Department the best protection rating in its history — which city residents’ home insurance rates could reflect.
Effective March 1, 2016, the fire district covering the city limits of Laurinburg will be rated at 4 on the 1 to 10 N.C. Response Rating System scale, where 1 is the best possible rating and 10 reflects an unrecognized fire service.
“That’s the best rating in our records that the city of Laurinburg fire department has ever received,” said Laurinburg Fire Chief Randy Gibson.
“It is basically used to gauge the ability of local fire departments to respond to fires, and being better equipped from the communications piece to the water supply. The fire department’s capabilities, the water system that’s available to the fire service, and then communications, meaning the 911 system that we have now, those are all factors that gave us a better rating.”
Currently, the Laurinburg fire district has a rating of 5. The Central Scotland and South Central Scotland fire districts also served by the Laurinburg Fire Department will continue to be rated 5. Those districts comprise the areas, directly north and south of Laurinburg’s municipal limits, that lie within a five-mile range of either city fire station.
Gibson credited the support and partnership of the Laurinburg City Council, Scotland County Commissioners, Scotland County Fire Commission, and members of the Laurinburg Fire Department and Scotland County Fire Service for his department’s improved rating.
New mutual aid agreements with all county fire departments may result in better protection ratings for Scotland County’s rural areas as well.
“That certified us with a water haul system where we utilize the tankers to haul water to the scene from the nearest water point,” Gibson said, adding that the heightened level of service contributes to a better protection rating for buildings located more than 1,000 feet from a fire hydrant.
“This is no longer an issue because we were certified and rated with the water haul system in this inspection.”
A new fire substation in the works for Purcell Road on the southern edge of the city will expand the breadth of the South Central District served by the Laurinburg Fire Department.
“That will continue to improve the fire department’s ability and could improve the rating even more once that is established,” Gibson said. “Having equipment more strategically placed within these substations, we’ll have a quicker response in the event of a fire in these areas.”
Typically the state fire marshal performs ratings every five or six years, but Gibson said that an inspection can be requested earlier in the event of a significant change in the level of fire protection.
While fighting fires is the department’s primary task, Laurinburg firemen also work to prevent them through educating children in schools and daycare centers, performing code inspections and pre-incident planning in commercial buildings, and installing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
“We are constantly trying to find ways to reach out to the public, from children and families to older adults, and addressing fire hazards and injury prevention concerns,” Gibson said. “We are grateful to serve and we hope that our efforts will continue to make Laurinburg and all the communities in Scotland County a great and safe place to live and work.”
Mary Katherine Murphy can be reached at 910-506-3169.