In rural areas of Langley, the lack of fire hydrants poses a significant challenge for firefighters.
It also means higher insurance costs for residences and businesses.
Now, following a rigorous documentation and training process, the Township fire department has earned a Superior Tanker Shuttle Service Accreditation from the Fire Underwriters Survey (FUS).
This accreditation proved that fire crews can not only quickly transport water to a remote rural area, but also maintain an effective supply as they fight fires in areas that do not have hydrants or are not close to a municipal water network.
Residents within the recognized area can expect to save 30 to 40 per cent in the fire protection portion of their home insurance. The area is confined to rural properties within eight road kilometres of Brookswood and Murrayville fire halls.
Pat Walker, the Township’s fire chief prevention officer in charge of fire prevention, told council that over the past two years, firefighters and other officials from the department have worked hard to achieve the required flow of 900 litres per minute within five minutes of the first fire truck arriving at the scene of a blaze and maintain that flow uninterrupted for two hours.
On Nov. 22, the Township fire department undertook the first round of accreditation testing in south Langley. This involved 25 firefighters and 10 fire trucks.
“While our fire department had the capacity to effectively fight most fires even before achieving accreditation, the certification officially recognizes our competence and will result in lower insurance premiums for many homeowners in our rural area,” Walker said.
The Township has seven fire halls that serve six urban communities and a large rural area over 316 square kilometres.
Walker said that to be accredited, the Township must be able to provide a “superior tanker shuttle service” which is the equivalent to having the protection of a hydrant, and regularly practise delivering the service.
Walker noted that residents pay more for fire protection insurance because insurers see it as a liability for those who do not live near fire hydrants or municipal water systems.
He added that it costs between $450,000 and $500,000 per kilometre to extend water services.
Walker said that proving that the Township has the firefighters, resources, and training to handle fires in all areas of the community “became a real team-building experience for our crews.”
He said that south Langley residents who are renewing their homeowners’ insurance should ask their agents to verify if they live within the accredited area and are eligible for the reduced rate.
Testing for accreditation in the next rural area of Langley will begin in January or February, Walker said.