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Pinecrest fire coverage could be expanded

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By PETER SAWYER

Monday night, the Campbell County Commission unanimously approved the EMS committee’s decision to allow the Campbell County Rural Fire Service to assume responsibility for the Pinecrest community. For the past five months, no fire department has officially covered Pinecrest, but The CCRFS and Jacksboro Fire Department offered some fire protection to Pinecrest.
Some residents complained about rising homeowners’ insurance rates. While many factors may have caused this, it could be a result of not having official coverage, CCRFS Chief Don McGuire said.
The CCRFS’s first objective is to put a truck in one station in the next 30 days, McGuire said.
“To get something in play,” he said.
McGuire hopes the CCRFS can operate out of two stations in Pinecrest—stations one and two.
Pinecrest Volunteer Fire Department
Residents of Pinecrest have effectively been without a fire department since October—when the Pinecrest Volunteer Fire Department became inactive. The CCRFS and Jacksboro Fire Department agreed to temporarily provide Pinecrest with coverage.
“We agreed to help them out for 30 days,” McGuire said. “There was no transfer of service.”
Norris Ridge Volunteer Fire Department
Members of the PVFD wanted to form the Norris Ridge Volunteer Fire Department and assume responsibility for Pinecrest.
However, the NRVFD delayed in providing service, McGuire said.
“It is now five months later and the new Norris Ridge Fire Department is not in service,” McGuire said in a letter. “Both departments (CCRFS and JFD) have made several runs in the past few months. It has cost Campbell County Rural Fire Service wear and tear on apparatus as well as additional fuel. It has cost the city of Jacksboro the same with additional payroll to employees who were needed during the response.”
The EMS committee met April 8 to determine whether NRVFD was ready to take responsibility for the Pinecrest area.
“There has been some concern about Norris Ridge Volunteer Fire Department providing service for the Pinecrest area,” County Mayor William Baird said.
NRVFD Chief McKay McCullough told the committee the department had two engines, a tanker and a brush truck. However, the department still needed insurance for the vehicles, worker’s compensation and non-profit status to begin operating.
Campbell County appropriated $16,500 for PVFD each year, according to McGuire’s letter. This provided $1,375 every month for operational expenses.
Without non-profit status, the NRVFD couldn’t receive $1,375 in funding each month from the county, EMS committee chair Rusty Orick said.
McGuire, who attended the meeting, questioned the NRVFD’s ability to sustain itself as a fire department if it assumed responsibility for Pinecrest. The EMS committee decided to assign responsibility for covering Pinecrest to the CCRFS instead of the NRVFD. The decision was made final Monday night by the commission.
Insurance
One of the reasons homeowners’ insurance rates might have increased could be a changed Insurance Service Office rating for the Pinecrest area, which could be caused by the dissolution of the PVFD, according to McGuire. The Insurance Service Office gives fire departments ratings on a scale of one to 10. One is the best possible score and 10 is the worst.
The PVFD had an ISO rating of seven, E.E. Hill and Sons insurance broker David Rutherford said. The CCRFS has a split rating of six and nine, McGuire said. People covered by the CCRFS who are within five miles of one of the stations and 1,000 feet of a fire hydrant have an ISO rating of six. Those who aren’t have an ISO rating of nine.
“It (a nine rating) means ‘yeah you got somebody coming, but it’s not ideal conditions,’” McGuire said.
Since the PVFD became inactive, some insurance companies may have begun basing rates on an ISO rating of 10, McGuire said.
“I guess they’ve been rating them with no coverage,” he said.
Now that the CCRFS has assumed official responsibility for Pinecrest, McGuire will work to maintain a six rating for those who live within five miles of the fire stations and 1,000 feet of fire hydrants. The CCRFS is also working to reduce the nine rating to an eight, he said.
Merging
At the EMS meeting, McGuire discussed having open meetings with Caryville and Jacksboro, because parts of the Pinecrest community lay in the growth plans of both municipalities and could possibly be divided between the Caryville Fire Department, Jacksboro Fire Department and CCRFS.
Friday, he is meeting with members of the NRVFD to take applications for the CCRFS.
“If they pass a background check, I should have adequate membership,” McGuire said.
Repayment
McGuire requested the commission reimburse the CCRFS and JFD for providing fire protection to Pinecrest for five months. The commission unanimously approved paying each department $687.50—half of the amount appropriated for PVFD—for the past five months.