Fire district assists towns with insurance

Department can affect premiums

— TWISP — The Washington Surveying and Rating Bureau is evaluating the towns of Winthrop and Twisp and Okanogan County Fire District 6 as part of its Protection Class program. The program assigns a numerical grade that represents the fire suppression capabilities of each community and the fire district.

This number helps insurance companies determine what rate to charge for residential and commercial insurance premiums. Fire District 6 has volunteered to facilitate this process, which can take as long as eight months, for both Winthrop and Twisp, Fire Chief Don Waller said.

“A full service fire department like ours taking this on can make a big difference in what people pay for insurance,” Waller said. “This is one area where we can help the towns, and we hope local residents will benefit.”

The Washington Surveying and Rating Bureau ranking system is based on a scale of 1 to 10, where a 1 is considered the most effective fire protection and a 10 the least. Currently, Twisp is ranked a 7 and Winthrop a 6. The fire district is an 8 because it has no fixed water supply, and must rely on water trucks when fighting fires in its service territory.

Waller says he doesn’t expect the fire district’s ranking to change because of the water supply issue, but there is hope for Twisp to drop to a 6 with help from the fire district to complete and submit the required information.

Four specific areas are reviewed to determine the numerical grade: water supply for fire suppression, fire department capabilities, emergency communications, and fire safety control.

“It’s good to work on a project together that will help the community,” Waller said. “We appreciate the cooperation of the towns and are working to achieve a positive result.”

Fire District 6 is asking the towns to provide information about their water supply, including a map of the water system that shows the hydrants and how fast the water can flow when it is needed in an emergency.

Fire District 6 has been extremely busy due to a very active wildland fire season, Waller said. From July to mid-August, the fire district responded to 62 emergency calls, 30 of which were for fires in forest, woods, brush or grasslands.

“Once wildfire season has ended, we will provide the rest of the requested information to the WSRB,” Waller said.

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