State places Mill Spring, Sunny View fire departments on probation: Probation does not affect ability to respond to emergencies

Published 10:05 pm Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Mill Spring and Sunny View fire departments were placed on a one-year probation last week by the North Carolina Department of Insurance, Office of State Fire Marshal (OSFM).

Both departments failed the inspection for the same reasons: low on personnel and failure to meet minimum response requirements.

The probation will not affect either department’s ability to respond to emergencies throughout the county.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Polk County Fire Marshal and Emergency Service Director Bobby Arledge explained the low on personnel reason for both departments is that some volunteers did not receive the necessary amount of training. Arledge said both departments have plenty of staff and the ones who did not obtain the necessary training can still do their jobs during the probation period.

Failure to meet minimum response requirements for both departments included not having enough manpower and equipment respond to fire alarms, according to Arledge.

Arledge said the state gives departments two calls a year for fire alarms where not enough equipment or manpower responds and Sunny View had three fire alarms and Mill Spring had approximately six. Arledge said the deficiencies all came from fire alarms where the departments didn’t have enough people to respond. Both departments met all the requirements responding to structure fires, Arledge said. The state monitors how departments respond to fire alarms and structure fires, according to Arledge, not motor vehicle accidents, brush fires or medical calls.

The state requires four people and one truck respond to all fire alarms, Arledge said.

“It’s hard for volunteers to get off work and go to a fire alarm,” Arledge said, “but it can be easily fixed.”

The OSFM inspected all six of Polk County’s fire departments during the week of Feb. 9.

The probationary period of one year is given as an opportunity for the departments to make the necessary corrections and in no way will affect the property owners’ insurance rates or the fire departments’ ability to respond to emergency situations, according to a press release sent from the Polk County Fire Marshal’s Office. The OSFM field inspector will conduct a re-inspection of both departments after the probationary period ends.

“The Polk County Fire Marshal’s Office supports all the county fire departments and has offered assistance in correcting the deficiencies,” Arledge said.

Any questions relating to the departments’ probation can be sent to Arledge at or by calling the fire marshal’s office at 828-894-6342.