On Monday, November 23, 2020, Pitt County Emergency Management (PCEM), along with Ayden Fire Department Chief, Sam Jones, and Winterville Community Fire Department Chief, Jonathan Heltzel, were both notified by the North Carolina Department of Insurance Office of State Fire Marshal (OSFM), that a completed evaluation of the fire insurance classification for both the Ayden Fire District and Winterville Community Fire District had resulted in a new Protection Class Ratings of 4/9E and 5/9E respectively.
The new rates will take effect on Monday, March 1, 2021, and is a significant advancement from the former Class 6/9E rating for Winterville Community and former class 5/9E for Ayden; which will result in an advisement from OSFM to change rates on dwellings (including those insured under Homeowners Policies) within the district, which are established by the North Carolina Rate Bureau.
Understanding this rating: The North Carolina Response Rating System (NCRRS) ranges from 1 (highest) to 10 (not recognized as a certified fire department by the state), with most rural departments falling into the 9S category. While lower ratings do not necessarily indicate poor service, a higher rating does suggest that a department is overall better equipped to respond to fires in its district. Higher ratings can also significantly lower homeowners insurance rates in that fire district.
This new rating has brought congratulations from both OSFM and PCEM. “I'd like to congratulate both Chief Jones and Chief Heltzel for the department's performance and for the hard work of all the department members," wrote Mike Causey, Insurance Commissioner, State Fire Marshal, "The citizens in … these districts should rest easy knowing they have a fine group of firefighters protecting them and their property in case of an emergency.” Those congratulations were echoed by Pitt County Emergency Management, from both the Pitt County Fire Marshal, Jay Morris, and Emergency Management Director, Randy Gentry.
North Carolina state law requires inspections by OSFM officials for departments serving districts of 100,000 people or less. This includes all 22 of the fire districts within Pitt County. A full listing of these departments can be found on the Pitt County website at www.PittCountyNC.gov/FireDepartments. To learn more about the Winterville Community Fire District, contact them at 252-321-4041. To learn more about the Ayden Fire District, contact Chief Jones at 252-717-1897.