Eglon once again making the fire safety grade

EGLON — North Kitsap Fire & Rescue officials were able to douse Eglon residents’ concerns their fire insurance rates would increase after the Washington Survey and Rating Bureau dropped the area’s safety rating due to an antiquated rule. The new rating — 5 — went into affect Aug. 1 and now matches other areas covered by NKF&R.

The rating dropped to a 10 — the lowest possible score — in July 2006 because the WSRB reported Eglon wasn’t within five miles of a fire station. This mandate dates back to when horses pulled fire engines.

Nonetheless, the problem was solved by positioning a refitted fire engine in a renovated garage which is being leased to NKF&R by a private citizen. The garage is near the intersection of Hansville and Eglon roads, within five miles of the community.

“We’ve been really excited we’re finally kicking this through the goal posts,” said Fire Commissioner Gillian Gregory. “We’ve been so anxious for this to happen. It’s a good thing, we think the thing that’s really good about it is our community now has the rating that is appropriate for it.”

The idea ignited after a July 12, 2006 meeting, when a resident volunteered his garage to house a fire truck. The vehicle will be staffed with volunteer and career firefighters from both the Kingston and Hansville NKF&R stations, said NKF&R public information officer Michele Laboda.

“In many cases, it may simply be faster for the crews to go on the fire engine,” she added. Response time to Eglon has never been a concern, and fire crews called to the community usually arrive on scene in nine minutes or less. Eglon has a low volume of calls, with only 18 in 2005, less than 1 percent of what NKF&R received that year. Laboda, Gillian and NKF&R Assistant Chief Dan Smith all feel while the truck will not be used much, it will provide another option for volunteer firefighters in the event of a structural fire.

“No, I don’t think the volume will increase any more than before,” Smith said. “The primary issue was Eglon was outside the five mile range. Our response times will not really be changing.”

The solution fits well within the fire district’s budget, another bonus to the plan, Gregory said. The $11,000 price tag doesn’t stray outside of the money budgeted for 2007 capital projects. One of the original solutions WSRB noted would be to construct a new station within five miles of Eglon, something that would have been difficult and costly to arrange.

“The system is designed so personnel can drive their personal cars to the engine in the event of a fire,” Laboda said. “It’s important that we provide the best possible system for this arbitrary rule.”

Residents’ whose insurance did rise because of the change in rating can expect it to drop again. The WSRB is not a government agency, and not all insurance companies utilize its ratings, so some residents may not have experienced a change in their policies.

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