Fire Cuts Could Impact Insurance

By: Meaghan M. Norman Email
By: Meaghan M. Norman Email

The cuts could cost you. Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero has proposed laying off dozens of firefighters and closing three fire stations to address the city's projected budget deficit. That means if these cuts happen, it'll probably take crews longer to get to you for an emergency. Additionally, you could end up paying for it with your insurance premiums.

Homeowners insurance is based on a variety of factors like how far away you live from a fire station, a hydrant, how many smoke detectors you have. If these variable change, your premium could be impacted.

"We'll have to see if there are more losses in Lansing because of fire, that's certainly going to be reflected in the premium paid by policy holders," said Lori Conarton, the communications director for the Insurance Institute of Michigan.

Three fire stations are slated to close, unless the millage is passed. There are eight stations in Lansing. If the three close, we'd be down to five. Coverage area per station would be greater, leading to increased response times and less staff for emergencies.

"It's all about response times, it's all about getting trained professional firefighters to the scene," said Lansing Fire Chief Tom Cochran. "When we talk about laying off upwards of 47 to 60 firefighters and closing three stations, that's definitely going to have a huge impact on firefighters response times."

"If these response times do lead to greater damage because of taking more time to get to the fires then, over time that is going to impact what people pay for their premium," said Conarton.

Michigan homeowners pay an average of $715 per year for insurance and that number could bump up. But, as for now, insurance experts say it's too early to tell.

"If you live two miles from one fire station and two miles from another that closes, you're still within good distance of a fire station so it's based on your individual circumstances and at this point only time will tell how this will impact premiums in Lansing," said Conarton.

Each municipality has a fire code rating which is on a scale from one to ten. One being great and ten being poor. The score is based on things like water supply, equipment, training and staff. Lansing has a rating of 3, which is good, but if the cuts bring that number up to a 4 or a 5, that could cause your insurance rates to rise.

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