What's your fire rating?

5 Apr 2011 | Lance Cpl. Damany S. Coleman

When becoming a potential homeowner, there are many important decisions that need to be made before purchasing a home.

One of the decisions involves knowing that the local fire department rating can drastically affect insurance premiums and even make mortgages impossible to pay.

Some service members of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and other area commands have consulted base officials, as well as the Onslow County Emergency Services and Homeland Security, about what to do.

"After much discussion, we learned that because of where they were located in the county, their (fire rating) costs were extreme," said Joe Ramirez, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune liaison for government and external affairs. "It was to the point that they couldn’t afford their mortgage any longer and they didn’t know this when they closed on their home."

Insurance quotes are based on normal fire ratings, which are typically manageable. Families learn later that because of the lack of fire department accessibility, their insurance rates ‘skyrocket.’

Various homeowners’ insurance companies will use the North Carolina Regional Response System rating along with other information provided about the home to determine a family’s insurance premium.

The NCRRS measures road miles from homes to the closest fire department to come up with a family’s class rating, which will determine the discount percentage of homeowner’s insurance.

The ratings are listed one through 10. A rating of 10 means there are six or more miles between the local fire department and the home.

A rating of one means the home is within five miles or less of the fire department and easily accessible from the road. Families can receive up to a 50 percent discount on fire ratings.

The NCRRS also factors in the local fire department’s equipment capabilities, water sources near the home and 911 dispatch and communications.

Ramirez advises families seeking a new home to research what fire ratings would be, and if they are already homeowners, to look at what the fire ratings costs currently are.

"It can cause some hardships, and in one case, the mortgage for one family doubled due to their fire rating," said Ramirez.

Ramirez added that Onslow County is doing what it can to provide better coverage for its citizens, but it is the homeowners’ responsibility to thoroughly research their fire rating.

For more information, call Joe Ramirez at 451-7645 or visit the Onslow County Emergency Services and Homeland Security website at