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Langley expands water tanker shuttle accreditation

Thousands more Langley residents will see huge savings on their house insurance premiums, thanks to the expansion of Langley Township's superior tanker shuttle service accreditation.

To be accredited by the Fire Underwriters Survey (FUS), a fire department must prove it can provide an alternative water supply and delivery system that can establish and maintain a flow of 900 litres per minute within five minutes of a fire engine arriving on the scene of a fire. The water supply must be sustained for two hours.

In May, the department took on the third and final phase of testing for the FUS accreditation in southeast Langley. Through a demanding documentation and training process, crews proved that they can quickly move and maintain an effective water supply to fires in remote areas where hydrants do not exist.

Last year, FUS accreditation was received for the southwest area of the municipality.

The leading co-ordinator for the process is assistant fire chief Pat Walker. Last month, he told council that the process was "a massive undertaking" that involved the entire fire department.

Now that the process is complete, residents in most rural areas will benefit and see substantial insurance savings, Walker said.

FUS does not set property insurance rates but is responsible for publishing the Canadian Fire Insurance Grading Index that is used by insurers across Canada on which to base insurance rates.

Residents who want to know if they are in an accredited area should contact their insurance provider.

“Because fire is a major concern, it is an advantage to live near a fire hydrant or fire station,” Walker said.

"In urban areas, proximity is not usually a problem and this is reflected in insurance rates. But in more remote or rural areas, the distance may be greater, which influences the cost of your insurance,” he said.

In some cases, residents living in accredited areas have seen their insurance premiums drop by up to 50 per cent, a savings of hundreds and sometimes even thousands of dollars.

“Residents can also be secure in the knowledge that Township fire crews are capable of shuttling tankers and supplying the water needed to fight fires in more remote locations,” Walker said.

How to better get the word out prompted a brief debate among council members. Councillor Bob Long was not happy spending $5,000 to send out notices to advise residents of the accreditation in their areas.

"I think people can figure it out," Long said, suggesting that staff examine less expensive ways to communicate the information.

"I don't need a staff report to tell me it's a good idea," said Councillor Charlie  Fox.

A majority of council voted to spend $5,000 to send 3,000 notices.

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