LAURINBURG — Scotland County is closer to having two new fire substations, but it could still be a few months before residents in those areas see reductions in insurance rates.
Part of the reason the county began the process of building the new substations was to reduce Insurance Service Office ratings. A better rating will translate to a reduced insurance bill for property owners near fire stations.
“Once the fire stations are up and operational, the state fire marshal’s office will do an inspection. Once the inspection is completed they will come back with a fire service rating for [both areas]. That will be sent to the insurance companies. I’m not sure how long it will take for the insurance companies to percolate that down to someone’s policy,” said County Manager Kevin Patterson.
He recommends that if residents don’t receive notice from insurance companies by the end of the year that they contact their provider.
The fire substations — on Patterson Road in south Laurinburg and Gum Swamp Lake Road in Laurel Hill — are set to be completed by July 3. They are on time and on budget as of May 31, according to Patterson.
In December, the county commissioners accepted a bid from Hawke’s Builders to construct both facilities for $697,618.
The project saw a bit of a savings because the city of Laurinburg installed the fire hydrants at both sites and handled clearing trees and brush at the south site, Patterson said.
Laurel Hill Fire Chief Clyde Locklear said he is pleased to have the new stations so close to completion because of the savings it will mean for residents.
“The people in those areas chose to have their homes and live out there, but that area is more than six miles from Laurel Hill or Spring Hill,” Locklear said. “It’s good that the county leaders and fire departments saw the need to put this in to try to get people lower insurance rates.”
Beyond lowering insurance rates, the two stations could also reduce response times.
Locklear’s Laurel Hill department will be responsible for manning the north Station on Gum Swamp Lake Road.
“We have some volunteer fire fighters that live in that area, and they would be closer to getting a truck. They could pick up a truck and get it to a fire before we could get there,” Locklear said using the Doe Run community as an example. “Doe Run is over six miles from Laurel Hill. It could ideally reduce response time.”
In a fire every minute counts and depending upon how long the fire has been burning and how involved it was when fire crews arrived, having one or two trucks staged closer to a community could be a benefit.
“It might mean the difference between saving part of a home or losing it all,” Locklear said.
The city of Laurinburg Fire Department will man the south station which will cover neighborhoods like Scotch Meadows and Leisure Living Mobile Home Park.
Once declared turn-key ready, the fire departments can begin moving equipment into the facilities, most likely within 45 days. The two substations will be equipped with two pumper/ tanker trucks each due to state requirements.
“We have to meet fire marshal standards for fire stations and substations to have at least 1,000 gallons of water in the station to fight fires as soon as you roll out,” Patterson said. “For that we’ll need two pieces of equipment. Each tanker has a 750-gallon capacity, so we will need a second one.”
The county will use four older fire trucks that were recently replaced with new vehicles when it began the process of rotating out older trucks and buying new equipment for the county’s fire stations four years ago. The trucks still work, and they have been tested and have met state requirements, according to Patterson.