Keeping up with the Caswell model


Most of the time, we roll our eyes at people who seem to be keeping up with the Joneses. The neighbor landscapes his yard, so the next weekend, you’re out there sprucing up yours. Your co-worker buys a brand-new, trendy car. You’re at the dealership the next day looking at a new ride for yourself.

I’m reminded of the line in the Waylon Jennings song Luckenbach, Texas, in which he sings “a four-car garage and we’re still building on.”

But in some cases, keeping up with the Joneses might not be such a bad thing.

In a presentation Monday at the Caswell County courthouse all 10 volunteer fire departments in Caswell County – all 10 of them – were recognized for lowering the ISO rating in their fire districts.

If that sounds a little like inside baseball, consider your wallet. Every reduction in a fire department’s ISO rating means homeowner’s insurance in that district gets a little less expensive.

The Caswell County fire departments – including Semora, which serves a portion of Person County as well – saw their ISO ratings improve significantly. The ratings are on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being the best and 10 meaning you have virtually no fire service. The Caswell County departments improved from ISO ratings of nine to as low as four in some cases.

That’s big money.

Person County (except for the area served by Semora) has some work to do to keep up with the Joneses – or the Caswells in this case.

And, truthfully, that’s part of what Person County commissioners said they wanted to see from the VFDs in this county in return for the increased funding those departments got in the most recent annual budget.

Earning that rating isn’t as easy as scheduling an inspector to come out one night during a fire department business meeting. It takes quite a while and, judging from the comments I heard Monday, a lot of effort to lower those ISO ratings.

I found it interesting to hear about the cooperation among the Caswell Fire Departments as they all worked together to earn the new ISO rankings as a group.

If you’ve ever been on a fire scene, you recognize the ordered chaos that firefighters orchestrate to put out a fire. Each person has a particular role, they know their role and they go out and perform.

That kind of orderly chaos may be part of the solution for Person County’s fire departments. Attaining a lower ISO is difficult at best. It’s helpful to go through that process with another department – or with several departments all at once.

As Person County’s fire departments try to figure out how they want to hold up their end of the funding equation they might want to consider trying to keep up with the Joneses, whether that means keeping up with Caswell County’s fire departments in achieving a better rating or keeping up with their fellow Person County fire department.

Keeping up with the Joneses may be worth a laugh sometimes, but sometimes it’s the right thing to do.


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