MURRELLS INLET, SC (WMBF) - The Murrells Inlet-Garden City Fire District is now in the top 3 percent nationally in fire protection with an improved Public Protection Classification.
The Insurance Services Office (ISO) notified the district that its classification had improved from a 3 to a 2. Earning nearly 88 credit points, they fell short of the 90 points necessary for a top classification. In the nation they are only 60 fire departments classed as a 1.
The new rating will lower fire insurance rates for property owners since fire insurance premiums are tied to ISO classifications, but also will bring questions raising the district's millage rate cap in advance to the March referendum.
"We're proud of achieving such an excellent ISO rating and the fact that it will benefit property owners through lower insurance rates," MIGC Fire District Chairman Al Hitchcock said. "It's reasonable to assume that if we had the fourth station built, based on our very high score, the district could very possibly achieve a class 1."
Last Year, Governor Nikki Haley vetoed legislation that would have raised the millage cap.
A referendum will be held on March 17th on whether to raise the district's millage cap and to build a new station.
"The district and our firefighters have worked hard to provide the best fire protection possible, Fire Chief Norman Knight said. "The problem we face is that our current level of funding will not sustain such top ISO ratings, much less build and operate a fourth station. The district will run out of money."
The improved Public Protection Classification will be effective on May 1, 2015.