Creston Fire Rescue Chief Mike Moore got an unexpected early Christmas gift in December when he opened the latest Fire Underwriters Survey, learning that Creston now has a higher rating than he expected.
For Creston residents, that can translate into lower property insurance costs, he said on Monday.
“This is entirely the result of our work experience program,” Moore told Creston town council in December. “The underwriters are recognizing our five trainees, who live on-site, as full-time firefighters.”
Moore worked with other Creston Valley fire departments to implement a work experience program (WEP) in 2014, which provides accommodation and training for five aspiring firefighters over a one-year period.
“Our 2 rating is a direct result of the WEP, and we could only get a 1 with a paid full-time fire department,” he said.
The new classification for residential properties — Dwelling Protection Grade 2 — means that Creston residents have adequate water supplies to meet fire protection needs, and that at least one career firefighter is on duty 24 hours a day, with 15 fully equipped volunteer or off-shift members available to respond with suitable apparatus.
“The dwelling protection rating for West Creston residents went up to Grade 3B, and our aim was Grade 4,” he said.
Contract firefighting services from Creston Fire Rescue began for West Creston in 2015.
The protection rating for Erickson was not affected by a rating change, but that could change with the planned reservoir construction, he said.
Ratings for commercial buildings in Creston also improved, which resulted from the installation of a hydrant in front of the brewery.
“That came as a result of the paving of Erickson Road two years ago,” Moore said. “The Town of Creston upgraded infrastructure along that road in advance of the paving.”
Within the next five years, he said, Creston town council could consider contracting with Fire Underwriters Survey to conduct a thorough assessment within its boundaries. The resulting map could then be used to develop a new strategic plan based on the survey’s findings.
“Council would have to be aware right from the start of that assessment that the first recommendation would be for a paid full-time firefighting service, which really isn’t feasible for a community our size,” Moore said. “But it would provide the tools that would help us determine where our priorities should be.”