Fire department under investigation

Published 10:51 pm Wednesday, August 14, 2019

SBI looking into possible misappropriation of funds from Mill Spring

MILL SPRING—A Polk County fire department is currently under investigation. 

The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation says it is currently investigating the Mill Spring Volunteer Fire Department for possible misappropriation of funds. 

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“The SBI was requested by the District Attorney to investigate the Mill Spring Volunteer Fire Department,” said SBI Public Information Director Anjanette Grube. “The investigation is looking into the possible misappropriation of funds.” 

The SBI could not give further details of the investigation while the investigation is still ongoing. 

The department is currently under non-compliant status from the State Fire Marshal’s Office as well. In April, the department was placed on non-compliant state from not meeting the state’s minimum requirements for a certified department. Deficiencies include that the chief officer did not complete a course; that the department was low on personnel; that the station had no equipment inventory and that the station had no maintenance records, according to the OSMF. 

Mill Spring Fire Chief Phillip Ravan said in April that the department had new members and was recruiting more and had plans in place to comply with the state’s requirements. 

The OSFM gave the department six months to make the corrections. The new inspection is expected to occur in September. 

If the corrective action plan is not completed, homeowners in the area could be affected. The OSFM said failure to meet the minimum requirements for a certified department will lead to a change in the rating classification of the fire district. 

Mill Spring is currently rated at a Class 9E and if the corrections are not made the OSFM will change the classification to a Class 10, which would mean higher homeowner’s insurance for residential customers in the district. 

The department will also be placed on probation if, after six months, the department does not meet the state minimums. 

In 2015, both the Mill Spring and Sunny View Fire Departments were placed on a one-year probation by the OSFM. Both departments in 2015 failed the state inspection for being low on personnel and failure to meet minimum response requirements. Both departments’ probation was lifted after the year probationary period and corrective action was taken.