To maintain that rating the SSVFD has to have a Class A Pumper under 20 years old and a Truck (if you want to know the distinction send me a note) at each station. Other than apparatus the rating is based on response time, training records, pump test records, hose test records, hydrant maintenance records, the average number of responding personnel, the presence of required equipment on each apparatus, and the dispatch center. These were the requirements of the federal ISO in '97. Just 2.5 points more in the score would have given the department a Class 4 rating.
Besides the insurance rating, the fire department also has to meet most of the requirements of OSHA and NFPA. On occasion the NC Dept. of Insurance may set additional requirements. You can't keep everyone in the district in the same insurance rate with one station, and you can't just have people jump in a truck and take off to fight a fire anymore. There are too many requirements, too many rules (good for safety), too much of an impact on the public's insurance expense.
So lets look at some numbers. Our neighboring departments of Duck and Kitty Hawk at one time were independent incorporated vendors just as the SSVFD is now.
Duck - The DVFD is still an incorporated volunteer organization in the town of Duck, but due to a smaller pool of year-round residents, has become more dependent on paid personnel to maintain their response levels. At the request of the DVFD their paid people are hired as town employees.
Paid Chief: 1
Paid Deputy Chief: 1
Paid Fire Officers: 3
2009 Budget: $604,000
2010 Budget: $654,000
Kitty Hawk - Now a town combination department, mostly paid, but with some volunteers, in the '90's the department was an independently incorporated VFD which fell into disfavour with their town government. There were accusations of misappropriation of funds, an SBI investigation, and threats of walkouts by the volunteers and a threat of lock-out of the firefighters by the town. Although no wrong doing was found and no charges were filed, the KHVFD didn't survive, as the volunteers dwindled and the town hired a paid Chief.
Paid Chief: 1
Paid Fire Officers: 2
Paid Fire Fighters: 5
2009 Budget: $1,300,000
2010 Budget $2,000,000
All the numbers above were gathered from either official Town or Fire Department websites.
SSVFD - Serves both Southern Shores and Martin's Point
Paid Chief: 1
Paid Fire Officers: 0
Paid Firefighters: 0
Volunteer Fire Officers, Firefighters, and Support: 40+
2009 Budget: $300,000
2010 Budget: $523,000
Assuming the service levels in all three districts are similar and acceptable to their corresponding towns, which of these three do you honestly think has been the best bargain?
Be aware of this fact: no one on any side of this issue has cast any doubt or complained about the services provided by the SSVFD. In fact, the department has received only the highest praise from citizens, council members, and it's peers in the service; not just in Dare County, but throughout the surrounding region.