Area fire departments train to help Union lower insurance rates
Union — Fire trucks converged on Union Saturday, Oct. 27 to aid in a drill that is expected to lower fire insurance rates for Union residents living outside the hydrant zone when repeated in spring 2013.
Union Fire Chief Barry Norris estimates that successful completion of the drill as witnessed by ISO Mitigation, a property/casualty advisory organization, should cause a 15 to 22 percent drop in fire insurance rates for those affected.
According to ISO's website, data on the equipment and readiness of fire departments are used to assign a Public Protection Classification (PPC) rating from 1 to 10, where 1 indicates "superior property fire protection" and 10 indicates subpar protection. Union's rating is currently a 9.
According to Chief Norris, Jefferson's PPC dropped from 9 to 6 when they undertook the drill three years ago. Norris hopes for the same when ISO witnesses the drill next spring, likely on May 18, 2013.
Myriad vehicles and 40 firefighters from Appleton, Camden, Jefferson, Waldoboro, Warren, and Washington assisted in the October drill, while an additional truck and crew from Waldoboro were prepared to respond in the event of an emergency in Union.
Brothers Lew and Phil McGouldrick of M&M Fire Consulting, Inc. told firefighters that the point of the drill was to establish an alternative water source close to a blaze from which the primary vehicle, or "attack truck," continuously draws water.
In order to successfully pass the ISO-sanctioned drill, Union's designated attack truck must deliver 250 gallons per minute (GPM) within five minutes, and maintain that rate for two hours.
On Oct. 27, the combined firefighting forces flowed 763 GPM for two hours, and flowed 863 GPM during a subsequent hose evolution drill.
According to Chief Norris, fire vehicles rated as a part of the spring 2013 drill will be able to count their fill and dump times toward lowering their own towns' fire insurance rates. Those towns will not need to undergo the two-hour test thanks to their participation in the Union drill, Norris said.
Success through collaboration
Fire chiefs agreed that great participation from all departments involved was key in ensuring a successful drill.
"We all need each other," said Waldoboro Fire Chief Paul Smeltzer. "We all have to do more with less. There are fewer and fewer volunteers, and more and more restrictions on our operations budgets."
Washington Fire Chief Tom Johnston said, "We need to do it...The time to learn is not when you have a fire to fight."
Chief Norris said he's "very happy with what we did," and that the firefighters' families also played a key role in the drill's success.
"We appreciate their families giving them up for the day," he said.
Courier Publications reporter Bane Okholm can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 125 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.