One of the departments is also significantly lowering what homeowners in their area must pay for fire insurance as part of the arrangement and their work to improve their capabilities and protection for the firefighters.
The arrangement calls on the MCB Camp Lejeune Fire Department to respond off base to help the Verona and Turkey Creek volunteer fire departments when called. In the case of the Verona Volunteer Fire Department, the collaborative arrangement works for that department to respond to locations on the base near their department, as well as the base fire department to come to the off-base operations.
Turkey Creek Volunteer Fire Department, which serves Sneads Ferry and the area around it, has a similar arrangement which also produced a savings for residents and businesses in the fire district. Because of their work to increase their capacity to fight fires with strategic improvements and equipment, and ensure firefighter safety, over 100 homeowner families will have a reduced fire rating and save a significant amount on their homeowners’ insurance. With funding from the Onslow Board of Commissioners, training efforts, personnel and carefully selected equipment purchases, their residents and business operators will have a higher level of protection.
On average, a $150,000 value home will save $1,681 for standard fire insurance per year over the current rating. Turkey Creek Volunteer Fire Department Chief Ricky Hardison says the investments the County has made in the fire service, and the agreement with MCB Camp Lejeune will provide better protection for the lives and structures in the area, as well as improve safety for firefighters, particularly by having the help they need to respond to a fire call safely.
“There are fewer volunteers willing to help,” said Chief Hardison. “Knowing they will have backup assistance helps those who are willing to serve feel confident about their personal safety.”
Turkey Creek serves the Sneads Ferry and Dixon areas and has an estimated population of 13,327 including the areas around the Sneads Ferry and Stone Bay gates of MCB Camp Lejeune.
Some fire and emergency services calls inside the Sneads Ferry gate might be responded to more quickly by off base equipment. Equally, some off base calls nearer to the Marine Corps Stone Bay facility might be responded to more quickly from Stone Bay units stationed there.
The agreement calls on the volunteers to respond to help with fire emergencies at Stone Bay, and for the Stone Bay location of the Camp Lejeune Fire Department to respond to fires off base in the Turkey Creek, Sneads Ferry and Verona area.
“We have regular training with the base,” said Turkey Creek Chief Hardison. “This has been a great value to both the base and our department.”
Chief Hardison noted many military connected families live off base and benefit from the better fire rating and life safety. “We share the same people, it’s really helping to protect the same people,” said Hardison who also mentioned that the MCB Camp Lejeune Fire Chief reached outside the gate to coordinate mutual aid assistance. Getting the universally supported agreement took about six months to get approved.
“When it comes down to it, the protection of life and property, and to be able to get trained, quality personnel to a scene as possible is important to our residents, and to the base,” said Hardison. The Chief indicated the capacity of the off-base units to help ferry water and provide manpower aboard the base for incidents there, was equally important.
“I’ve been doing this for 42 years and no one ever complained about what names were on their shirts when they needed help,” said Hardison.
Southwest and Piney Green volunteer fire departments are also working on mutual aid agreements with the base. So too is Onslow County, which operates several fire departments. The base already has an agreement with the City of Jacksonville which responds to some housing areas aboard the base and benefits from the base responding to some commercial and residential areas outside the main gate as well as mutual aid for major fires.