Lake Waccamaw’s fire department now has a rating of Class 4, making it one of the highest ranked departments in the county.
“We were ecstatic,” Town Manager Harry Foley said.
“This is a real big day for Lake Waccamaw,” said Mayor Daniel Hilburn. “This not only shows the department is working to improve the safety of our residents, but it could save the taxpayers millions of dollars.”
The rating extends to both residential and commercial insurance customers, and will go into effect in March. Whiteville and the village of Riegelwood district, served by Acem-Delco-Riegelwood, also have a Class 4 rating, which is considered excellent for rural and small urban departments.
The Lake department shut down in 2013 after a former chief was dismissed and many of the Fire and Rescue Auxiliary volunteers quit. At the suggestion of the state fire marshal’s office, the department closed briefly due to problems with paperwork and documentation, reopening in April 2014. The auxiliary, which now operates as Lake Waccamaw Rescue, sued the town for vehicles and equipment. The lawsuit was eventually settled, and the two departments regularly work together on calls.
The fire department was reopened in 2014, and has been working to improve the fire rating since that time. The insurance rating dropped to a Class 10 when the department was closed, causing massive hikes in fire insurance. A new inspection took the rating to a Class 9 in June 2014.
The department went from a handful of volunteers to more than 30, opened a substation, acquired new equipment, and increased training to gain the new rating. A Sept. 11 fire inspection was cancelled due to pending bad weather, and volunteers spent a long day in October taking part in the rescheduled examination of the department.
See tomorrow’s NR for more on this story.