March 26--The plan to reopen the Crescent Community Fire Station in McIntosh County for residents in the Belleville Community has stalled.
To be operational, the fire station needs at least 10 volunteers who have to live within 5 miles of the station.
So far, that has not happened. The McIntosh County Commission put out the word it needed volunteers but failed to receive a single application.
The idea to reopen the station was proposed after residents in Belleville learned their property insurance premiums would go up as a result of the community's Insurance Service Office, or ISO, rating has jumped from a 5 to 9 because there is no staffed fire station within a 5-mile radius of some of the residences there.
The ISO rating is a risk management number used by insurance companies. A 10, the lowest rating, represents the greatest risk to property because of inadequate fire protection.
Last year, some residents said they received letters notifying them that their homeowner's insurance premium will be increased 60 percent or more a month. However, due to changes to the classification system by the ISO set to go into effect on July 1, some homeowners probably won't see that high of an increase.
The ISO will introduce a new classification rating called 10W, which gives risk credit to property within 5 to 7 road miles of a responding fire station and within 1,000-feet of a creditable water supply. This change has the potential to reduce property insurance premiums, says McIntosh County Fire Chief Mark Deverger.
When the Crescent Fire Station was deactivated years ago, it left two other fire stations, both of which are at least 6 miles away, to cover the Belleville community.
"If this change to 7 miles happens, (our current fire stations) would cover everything we have in McIntosh County," said Deverger. "We wouldn't have (any) gaps anywhere."
Parts of the Belleville community will retain its class-nine rating, so it won't stop insurance companies from raising rates but the new 10W rating rules should still apply, says Deverger.
The only way to get the classification back to a 5 is to reopen the Crescent Fire Station, so the option still remains on the table.
Deverger is less than optimistic that the station will open anytime soon.
"I've been trying for years to get volunteers (for the Crescent Fire Station). They're not going to volunteer," he said. "Belleville has a lot of vacation homes and second homes, so not many people live there long enough to become volunteers anyway."
-- Reporter Martin Rand III covers local news. Contact him at [email protected], on Facebook, or at 265-8320, ext. 324.
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