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New fire station to lower insurance rates

By Rose Laudicina
Staff Writer

Orange Grove Volunteer Fire Company Chief Tommy Holmes and board of directors president Bill Waddell break ground at the company's new fire station on Rocky Ridge Road, as members of the fire company, Orange County commissioners and Bob and Chris Nutter look on. Photo by Rose Laudicina

The Orange Grove Volunteer Fire Company doesn’t just help its constituents in emergency situations – it also helps them save money.

Due to recent regulation changes from the North Carolina Department of Insurance, homes that are more than six road miles from the nearest fire station in their district are considered unprotected and given a rating of 10, causing their insurance rates to be significantly higher than homes within the six miles.

Insurance companies are cashing in on this regulation thanks to applications such as Google Earth that make it easier for them to search their customers’ addresses and immediately find out how far their homes are from the nearest fire station.

“Insurance companies have brought to light a new way to collect money,” Orange Grove fire Chief Tommy Holmes said.

Orange Grove estimates that 1,100 of its constituents are more than six miles away from a fire station; so to resolve the problem, the fire department is building two new rural fire stations.

The first station, located on Rocky Ridge Road, is already under construction, while construction on the second station, tentatively planned for Nicks Road, will begin in 2013.

By building a new station on Rocky Ridge Road, the department will be helping an estimated 400 property owners lower their insurance ratings, and therefore costs, by bringing them back within a six-mile radius.

“I want to commend them,” Assistant County Manager Michael Talbert said, “because this is their idea on how to serve their constituents.”

While helping save constituents money, the department is also trying to help the county save some by being as cost-effective as possible, and the community they serve is helping them do just that.

Chris and Bob Nutter of Maple View Farm sold the land to the department that the new station is being built on for $1, while Allen Knight, the contractor for the project, is donating his time.

“This reflects something wonderful about the community,” said Bill Waddell, the president of the Orange Grove Volunteer Fire Company board of directors. “The community here is a strong one.”

Additionally, in order to keep costs down Holmes said the building will be as bare-boned as the requirements will allow.

Holmes estimates the new station will cost around $75,000 to build, and he believes that it will be money well spent to bring an added sense of security to the area.

“I want to thank the chief and the Orange Grove Fire Department for their willingness and their foresight to provide this service to the citizens of Orange County,” Orange County Commissioner Valerie Foushee said at a meeting earlier this year.

Holmes anticipates that the station on Rock Ridge Road will be open for fire fighting by July 1.

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