Out-of-county stations help Chatham fight fire

BY ZACHARY HORNER, News + Record Staff
Posted 3/15/19

Did you know that Chatham County is so big that its 19 fire stations don’t cover the entire area?

Chatham County currently contracts with two nonprofit fire departments and one municipality, in …

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Out-of-county stations help Chatham fight fire

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Posted

Did you know that Chatham County is so big that its 19 fire stations don’t cover the entire area?

Chatham County currently contracts with two nonprofit fire departments and one municipality, in accordance with state law, to help cover areas that are too far away from current fire stations. County officials say the agreements help lower response times and homeowner insurance premiums in those areas.

Northview Fire Department in Sanford, Staley Fire Department in Staley and the City of Durham provide first responder and fire protection services and have for a long time, according to county Fire Marshal Thomas Bender.

“It’s so important because it makes response a lot quicker,” Bender said. “They can get there a lot faster than any of our other stations can get there. That’s of utmost importance.”

Northview FD, located at 104 Perkinson Road in Sanford off of U.S. Highway 1 in Lee County, covers the far southern part of the county. Staley FD at 410 W. Railroad St. in Staley, Randolph County handles calls in the northwestern corner, and City of Durham firefighters in the Parkwood Fire District respond to calls in the far northeastern part of Chatham County.

Under state statute 69-25.5, counties many contract with “any incorporated city or town, with any incorporated nonprofit volunteer or community fire department, or with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Serivces to furnish fire protection.” On its website, the county lists fire departments from Pittsboro, Goldston, Bonlee, Bennett, Silk Hope and Siler City, as well as the North Chatham Fire Department, as part of its group, but benefits from its partnerships with these out-of-county groups as well.

The fire tax from those areas — 15 cents per $100 of property valuation each year — are dedicated to special funds, from which 99 percent goes to the individual fire departments.

The citizens also benefit on their insurance premiums, according to Bender and Interim County Manager Dan LaMontagne. If a home is within six miles of a fire station, it reduces the cost of home insurance.

“People get a better fire rating if they’re closer to the fire station,” LaMontagne says. “It makes sense for us to contract with those.”

He added that these types of contracts are not uncommon for rural areas like the outer parts of Chatham County.

Bender said those three stations can also provide assistance on calls nearby, even if the situations are primarily being handled by county-based departments. Chatham stations provide the same services for Staley and Northview’s departments — it’s a “win-win situation,” Bender said.

But most importantly, he said, Chatham County citizens receive the benefit of committed firefighters who aren’t restrained by county lines.

“District lines really don’t mean a whole lot to them because they’re going to be there when they’re needed,” Bender said. “The real heroes in any of this are the men and women that man those stations. They don’t want to be called heroes, but that’s what they are.”

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