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SANTEE — Citing “a tremendous job” in training and updated equipment, Santee Fire Chief Edward Barnett Jr. said his department has been able to improve its overall ISO rating from a Class 9 to a Class 4.

As a result, property owners within the Santee Fire District will see reductions in their insurance premiums once the new ISO rating goes into effect on May 1.

“Any home or business that is within five miles from Station 1 or Station 2 is entitled to that Class 4 rating,” Barnett said. “We have residents in Providence and Vance and residents in Elloree that are entitled to that Class 4 rating as long as they are within five miles.”

Barnett noted that more than 80 percent of the fire district is now covered by fire hydrants that are approximately 1,000 feet apart.

He said the percentage of the reduction in insurance premiums will depend on the value of the individual’s property and their insurance carrier.

“But homeowners will be able to save 10 to 40 percent on (their) insurance premium,” Barnett said. “So it’s a win-win-win for the residents and the businesses around here.”

In addition, the Santee Fire Department is now able to get more water to areas throughout its district thanks to a new tanker trucker, the chief said.

“We now have a 2,000-gallon tanker that helps with that mobile water supply and other equipment that’s needed on the truck. This is the first tanker that we have had,” Barnett said. “Normally, our procedure is when we have a structure fire, we send out our (three) first-line pumpers, which (each) hold 1,000 gallons of water. Now we can send the tanker ... along with a pumper. So we automatically have 3,000 gallons of water. If needed, our mutual aid (fire departments from other towns) will come out and meet us with more water.”

He added, “Now we are able to provide a certain amount of water for a longer period of time. This is because of the help of the community, council members, (fire) commission board and, most important, the residents ... “

The Santee Fire Department currently has 20 firefighters, including 12 part-time paid members, Barnett said, adding that more volunteer firefighters are needed.

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“They can come in with no experience and we will train them, send them to school and make sure they get the proper training needed. If a person has training and they ... want to come in and volunteer, that’s fine, too,” Barnett said. “The fire department will pay for all the training and certifications.”

Those who don’t want to fight fires can serve in other capacities to help the department, he said.

As for the future, Barnett said the Santee Fire Department will continue to work to improvement its services.

“Even though we have this great (ISO) rate, we’ll have to keep it this way. In order to keep it this way, we have to look into our future for new equipment, manpower, etc.,” he said. “At the moment, the (fire) commission board, with the county council and the Town of Santee, ... we are doing a fire service study/review. This will help us know what we need, how much we need and where we want to be in the next five, 10, 15 years out due to the (expected) growth in the community ... “

The chief added, “I want to also commend our firefighters — the volunteers and the paid personnel — and our mutual aid departments because they helped us to achieve” the Class 4 ISO rating.

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Contact the writer: a1secy@gmail.com.

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