East Pierce Fire and Rescue improves protection ratings

After a tumultuous few months of failed levies and slashed budgets, a shift in the winds may be coming for East Pierce Fire and Rescue constituents.

After a tumultuous few months of failed levies and slashed budgets, a shift in the winds may be coming for East Pierce Fire and Rescue constituents.

“I have some good news for you tonight,” said Fire Chief Jerry Thorson, who presented at the Bonney Lake City Council meeting March 24. “Every fire district in the state of Washington is rated by the Washington Surveying and Rating Bureau and the insurance industry uses that to set your fire insurance rates…. I’m happy to say in all but two of our jurisdictions, we improved and have a lower rating number now.”

Thorson said the improved rating may mean lower insurance rates for people covered by East Pierce.

The Washington Surveying and Rating Bureau rates communities in four categories; water supply, the fire department, emergency communications and fire safety control, according to Thorson.

The Bureau rates communities every five to 10 years.

Letters from the bureau were sent to the mayors and officials of Bonney Lake, South Prairie, Sumner, Edgewood, Milton and unincorporated Pierce County communities on March 19 announcing the new protection classifications.

The lower the classification number, the better the rating. The rating scale is from one to 10, with one being the best rating the bureau can give. In Bonney Lake, the protection classification number improved from five to four.

South Prairie saw an improvement from seven to five.

Sumner remained a four and Edgewood remained a five, although Thorson said it improved from a high five to a low five.

Milton saw an improvement from six to four, and unincorporated parts of Pierce County saw an improvement from five to four.

According to East Pierce, 13 percent of all communities in the state receive a class four rating, and 19 percent receive a class five rating.

While Thorson said he is still trying to figure out how much savings these improvements could mean for commercial and residential insurance holders, the bureau encourages residents to contact their insurance agents to determine how this could affect their insurance premiums.

“This really shows the fire district is successful in giving the best service possible,” Thorson said after the council meeting.

Tempered news

While the improved protection classes may mean lower premiums, not all the news is positive. Because $3.2 million was cut from the departments budget when the maintenance and operations levy failed to gather a supermajority of votes in August and November 2014, the good ratings may be temporary.

“Unfortunately, several of the items that helped provide improved classifications have been cut due to budget restraints,” Thorson said in a press release.

Thorson said if the department isn’t able to increase their budget, restore public education programs, staffing levels and firefighter and EMS training in the near future, the department could change the rating by the Washington Survey and Rating Bureau in a few years.

This could negatively affect insurance premiums.

“The report confirms what we have been saying,” Thorson said the press release. “Low staffing levels, aging fire engines and medic units and deferred maintenance will eventually affect our ability to provide adequate fire protection. A community’s investment in fire mitigation is a proven and reliable predictor of future fire loss.”

Reach Ray Still at rstill@courierherald.com or 360-825-2555 ext. 5058. Follow him on Twitter @rayscottstill for more news, pictures and local events.

 

More in News

Taxing district was independent, now part of city government

In a move that was philosophically opposed by a pair of council members, the city of Enumclaw has taken control of the local Transportation Benefit District. The move may not be noticeable to the general public, as the collection and distribution of money should be unchanged. Also, the people controlling the dollars and cents remain the same.

Wilbanks wins close Buckley race

It took a month, but Luke Wilbanks finally knows he’ll be occupying a seat on the Buckley City Council.

Smooth holiday travel requires planning, patience | Department of Transportation

No matter what your holiday plans, being prepared for winter conditions and holiday traffic will help make your trip smoother. The Washington State Department of Transportation urges all travelers to “know before you go” and plan ahead for smoother travel.

Pierce County burn ban lifted | Puget Sound Clean Air Agency Update

The weather may be getting colder, but burn bans have been called for multiple counties due to deteriorating air quality.

Local authors publish their first novels

Sometimes, you just can’t get an idea out of your head. For two local authors, this certainly has been the case. Since they were kids, James Peet of Enumclaw and Tommy Rice of Bonney Lake had some ideas in their heads, ones that never quite left them, even as they grew older, got jobs, and settled down with their wives and kids of their own.

Scammers posing as the State Supreme Court Clerk | Office of the Attorney General

Scammers are posing as the Washington State Supreme Court Clerk to call Washingtonians to demand money and threaten arrest. The fraudulent calls have so far targeted individuals with Hispanic last names.

Enumclaw’s Van Hulse to compete in national music showcase

Erik Van Hulse, who also goes by his stage name Siboh Nisoh, has been working toward this big break for almost as long as he can remember.

Kiwanis honor four as Students of the Month

Members of the Buckley Kiwanis Club honored a trio of “Students of the Month” during an Nov. 16 gathering.

Pepper addresses ‘false’ recall charges in community meeting

The meeting, held at the Black Diamond library, was a chance for voters to have “an opportunity to hear from both sides before they decide to sign,” the recall petition, Pepper wrote in an announcement for the meeting.

Most Read