A contract dispute between Currituck County and its volunteer fire departments could result in less faborable insurance ratings for the departments and higher premiums for most county residents, a state official says.
Four of Currituck's five fire districts have not renewed their annual fire protection contracts with the county. The volunteer fire departments that serve those districts are contesting language in the contracts that give the county more oversight of the fire agencies' finances.
At least one of the VFDs, in Carova, has said it will not sign the new contract with the county. Three others - in Corolla, Lower Currituck and Crawford - have said they want revisions before they'll sign the agreement. Only firefighters in Moyock have agreed to sign the new contract.
If the other VFD's don't sign their contracts. They risk losing their minimum insurance rating, and that could end up costing homeowners more in insurance costs, said Kristin Runger, a spokeswoman for the N.C. Department of Insurance.
According to Runger, fire departments across the state have to maintain what's known as an "ISO 9S" rating to continue providing fire protection to residents. Fire departments achieve the rating by meeting state-specified criteria for training and equipment.
Losing that rating - which could happen if the county doesn't have signed agreements with the fire departments - won't just affect the departments, Runger said. Homeowners who depend on the departments to protect their homes from fire could also be affected, she said.