Re: Fire Insurance
Over the last year and a half the fire district has been making
tremendous strives to better serve the islands. The news has
regularly been good, however, this time I must share a negative
note. Earlier this year the Washington Surveying & Rating
Bureau (WSRB) evaluated Vashon Island Fire and Rescue. The
WSRB is responsible for establishing the island’s Fire Protection
Classifications for use by insurance companies to determine fire
insurance premiums. In comparison to the last evaluation of 2014
the loss of volunteers will negatively impact residences on both
ends of Vashon as well as much of Maury Island.
Vashon Island Fire and Rescue has one fire station that is staffed
twenty four hours a day. However, the WSRB will consider a
station staffed if six firefighters live within five miles of the
station and will respond out of it. In 2014 it was documented
that this standard was met. This year we can not claim such.
We actually have no firefighters serving out of the north or south
stations and only one is currently active out of the Dockton Fire
Station. For this lack of volunteers, properties within five miles
of these stations will see their Protection Classification jump from
a 5 to a 9 unless, your property is also within five miles of the
Main Fire Station or the Burton Fire Station then there will be
no change in classification.
For this information’s official release on June 1st island residents
have been advised of changes in their insurance premiums and
are asking us what can be done. Unfortunately how these changes
impact insurance rates is solely known, and calculated, by the
various insurance companies. With regards to the District’s
options, the fix is not necessarily easy or quick, we need volunteer
firefighters. We need volunteer firefighters living close to stations;
once a station has six or more firefighters living within five miles
of a station and responding out of it, we inform the WSRB and
the classification can be returned to 5. However, volunteerism
in the fire services or the lack thereof, is a national problem and
Vashon is no exception. We have been watching such ranks
trend down for years. Additionally we have watched the average
age of our volunteers growing older and older further supporting
a drop in numbers as they ‘age out’.
Where staffing was the primary focus of this year’s insurance
increases it is not the only obstacle the District is working on.
Aging fire trucks also have an annual impact on our service; it did
not have a negative impact on this year’s WSRB report but could
in the future. The District is very much engaged in the correction
of these issues but they will require time and effort by both the
community and the fire district to improve. Beyond directly
asking all of you affected by the change to become a volunteer
firefighter we must ask for your understanding and patience as we
explore long term solutions. We are working to find solutions!
As always, thank you for all of your time and consideration. Your
input and assistance in the successful mitigation of this matter is
very much welcome. I look forward to our next conversations
regarding the continual improvement of the District.
Charles H. Krimmert, Fire Chief