Q. What will the new rating system be called?
A. At this time we intend to call it the "North Carolina Response Rating System"
Q. Will you use the same grading schedule that ISO used?
A. One of the procedural issues to work out is the exact grading plan, but the law requires it be at least as stringent as the current one utilized by ISO, and we intend to make it as compatible as possible while keeping it usable and up to date.
Q. When will you begin inspections?
A. It is our hope to begin as early as possible to inspect and rate departments. As soon as we work out issues involving policies, procedures and staffing, we will notify you of our schedule. It is our hope to begin by the fourth quarter of 2000 or no later than first quarter 2001.
Q. How often will you inspect?
A. Our inspections will occur on a 5 year cycle. Inspections may come sooner if a department indicates they are ready for evaluation, have made improvements warranting an earlier inspection or we have sufficient reason to believe that a department has deteriorated to the point that re-inspection prior to the scheduled cycle is warranted.
Q. What can cause an inspection to occur?
A. The five year cycle, a request, or a complaint by the insurance industry are examples of actions that can trigger an inspection. A cycle, governmental request, or complaint are the three current methods by which ISO will inspect.
Q. Will the Rate Bureau and Insurance Industry recognize the new ratings plan?
A. Yes. The general statutes (G.S.58-36-10 and G.S.58-40-25(4)) amended by HB 1696 will require recognition of the new rating plan.
Q. How will the ratings be posted?
A. One of the procedural issues to work out is how postings will occur. Our desire is to have them posted through the Rate Bureau in a manner similar to how they are done today. The most dramatic change will be removing the delay that currently exists in getting them posted.
Q. Will there be a review board or appeal process?
A. There will be an appeal process, but the procedural issues are still in the development stages. It is important to know that the new rating process will be "feedback" oriented and as a result, reviews and appeals should be at a minimum. If a particular grade is not reached, the reasons for same will be well known to the department, and corrective steps can be taken at anytime.
Q. How soon can we expect an inspection?
A. Our first initiative will be to inspect those departments who have requested ISO inspections and have not received them, as well as those past the 15 year schedule. We may be surveying your department in the near future to see if you fall under either category. If not, you should expect a fair notification to occur well before your next inspection.
Q. Can I make changes after an inspection to improve my rating?
A. Yes. We expect our inspections to be a constructive positive process. If you are deficit in a particular area, we will notify you, and if you can correct that deficiency we will do a return visit and give you credit. Our intent is to improve the response capabilities in North Carolina, and if we truly believe our grading system accurately measures it, then we should and will work with you to measure up to it.
Q. What benefits can departments expect now that DOI will be responsible for fire department grading?
A. Better communication, more up-front training, realistic standards and a routine inspection cycle.
Q. Will my present rating be affected?
A. Not until we make an inspection.
Q. What if ISO has inspected my department, but we have not heard the results?
A. The results of any ISO inspection prior to passing of HB 1696 in July will be honored.
Q. What if ISO currently has an inspection scheduled for my department?
A. If you serve an area under 100,000 in population, you need not participate in an ISO inspection. They should cancel all scheduled inspections, but if they do not, please notify them that inspection will be forthcoming from DOI. Until our inspection process actually begins, if you desire to have an inspection by ISO, we will honor the results until such time as our cycled inspection occurs.
Q. What does HB 1696 and six mile districts have in common?
A. Six mile rural districts were proposed by DOI, within our rating authority, prior to the enactment of HB 1696. We currently plan to continue moving forward with implementation of six mile districts provided the specified conditions are met. Contact our fire department rating staff at (919) 661-5880 for information on this. The area between 5 and 6 miles, if approved for extension, can only carry a 9S rating. This will create split classifications in some areas.
Q. I’ve heard this was a smoke screen to require mandatory firefighter certification. Will this mean personnel certification, now voluntary, will become mandatory?
A. Absolutely not. The only authority for personnel certification in the fire service (excluding EMS) lies with the Fire and Rescue Commission, and it by statute is voluntary.
Q. Where can I get additional information?
A. It will be several weeks before issues regarding a program of this magnitude are resolved. We plan to keep fire departments informed of progress. Should you need a question answered, call (919) 661-5880 and ask for fire department rating staff. If staff is not immediately available, they will call you back.