Fire department receives accreditation

The Lake Cowichan Fire Department now has Superior Tanker Shuttle Service Accreditation, earned through the Fire Underwriters Survey.

Doug Knott, received notification that the Lake Cowichan Fire Department now has Superior Tanker Shuttle Service Accreditation, earned through the Fire Underwriters Survey.

This could mean substantial home insurance savings for approximately 360 Lake Cowichan residents who live within an eight kilometre radius, by road, of the Lake Cowichan Fire Department.

The fire department purchased a new tanker truck in August of 2011, and has spent over a year going through a rigorous documentation and training process.

The department was tested in October of last year, but new addresses had to be added to 911 databanks for the dispatch location in Nanaimo, and the CVRD, town of Lake Cowichan, and Youbou fire chief had to all sign off on these new  addresses as well as updated maps before the fire department could receive the accreditation.

Knott says this accreditation could not have been achieved without an automatic aid agreement with the Youbou fire department, which also has a tanker truck. Because of this agreement, the Lake Cowichan Fire Department did not have to wait until it had the ability to purchase a third tanker truck to qualify for the accreditation.

Insurance companies have a three tiered system by which they assess homes for fire insurance. The first is where residents are considered “protected”, meaning that they are 3A, 2, or 1 Dwelling Protection Grade. Lake Cowichan residents within eight km of the fire hall, and/or 5 km of a fire hydrant, now fall within the 3A grade. Those who live beyond the eight kilometres are still protected, but they fall into the second category of “semi-protected,” or 3BS.  Because of the new rating, CLEC is now covered under the 3BS rating.

According to the Fire Underwriters Survey, residents who now qualify for the 3A rating, can save between 32 and 60 per cent on their insurance premiums.

However, Millie Stirling from Vancouver Island Insurance in Duncan warns that insurance companies do not show these numbers as discounts, but rather “they show as a surcharge.”

This surcharge is lower than what residents would have previously paid, “but you do get the best rate by being protected,” she said.

Each company has different programs or definitions for acceptable distance from a fire hall or fire hydrant. For example, VIS will allow up to 13 km for those who are in the 3A rating.

Knott says his department trained extensively even before the purchase of the tanker.

“It took a little bit,” he says. “It’s not easy getting people used to how to use equipment in a better fashion.”

However, he noted that the testing, which took place in October, can take up to a day, and his crew made it through in half an hour.