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Changes in Updated Fire Maps, Forsyth County

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FORSYTH COUNTY – The Forsyth County Board of Commissioners approved updated fire insurance district maps Monday night that could lower insurance costs for residents living between 5 and 6 road miles from a fire station.”The reason for the remapping is we’re using today’s mapping technology and assuring that our fire district lines follow an official survey line,” explained Tim Whicker, deputy fire marshal for Forsyth County.

Forsyth County is one of the oldest rural fire protection counties in the state, according to Whicker, and many of the districts were created in the 1950s and 60s, a time when maps were hand drawn.

Accurate GIS mapping will ensure that property owners are assigned to the proper fire districts and receive credit for rated service if they live within the boundaries, Whicker said. The project has been in the works for about three years.

With the update, the county is expanding its fire districts up to 6 road miles. Previously the state limited fire insurance districts to 4 miles. Those living outside those boundaries are still served by fire stations but are not credited with having rated service for insurance purposes.

“We want to make sure that we are in line with the present day standards so citizens that were further than 5 miles from a fire station can still take advantage of insurance coverage,” Whicker said.

The rate for those living between 5 and 6 miles will not be as good as the one for those living within 5 miles of a station, but it is still better than living outside a rated district, Whicker said. Each insurance company sets its own prices, but Whicker has seen people save more than $1,000 for being in a rated district.

According to the N.C. Department of Insurance, about 65 counties have now taken advantage of the 6-mile district, which was made available by the state several years ago. The county had to adjust all of its rural departments’ boundaries at once to take advantage of it.

The change should not affect local fire departments, Whicker said. It is more of a paper change that will help some homeowners with their insurance costs.

Jerry Brooks, Clemmons fire chief, said all the county’s fire chiefs are aware of the changes, which include minor adjustments and realignments of some districts.

“It’s nothing but a positive move,” said Brooks. “(It’s) very positive for homeowners, and commercial property also.”

There are still about 12 parcels on Spainhour Mill Road – in the far northwestern area of the county, near Tobaccoville and King – that are not within 6 road miles of a station, Whicker said. Some of those parcels are open land, and there are about six houses there.

Forsyth County Commissioner Walter Marshall asked what the county could do to ensure that all homes were in a rated district, but Whicker said the only way to fix it would be to build a fire station in the area.

“Everybody in the county has had and will continue to have service. It’s just a matter of the insurance rate,” Board Chairman Richard Linville stressed.

The revised county maps will now be sent to the N.C. Department of Insurance, who will provide them to the Insurance Service Office. It will be up to homeowners to look at their insurance policies to make sure their information is correct.

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