Understaffed Fire Departments Put Homes and Homeowners Insurance Rates at Risk

homeowners insurance rates

According to the Insurance Services Organization (ISO), a company that helps insurance companies assess fire risk and set homeowners insurance rates, fire protection for U.S. homes is becoming increasingly inadequate. With communities expanding, the resources needed to protect them cannot keep up. As a result, fire departments are slower to respond to emergencies, threatening the safety of citizens and their homes.

Dwindling Resources Risk Greater Fire Damage

As part of ISO’s Public Protection Classification program, ISO evaluates fire services in communities across the country, rating them in Classes 1 through 10, with 1 being the ideal fire protection rating. The company’s statistics show that 30 percent of communities fall into Class 9, the lowest acceptable fire preparedness class, and about 3 percent have no protection at all.

Communities with inadequate fire protection face double the anticipated financial losses from fire damage than those well-prepared areas. Residents in poorly protected communities, usually rural areas with sparse populations, know they must be vigilant to prevent damage because they cannot rely on fire departments to protect their homes.

However, those in suburban areas experiencing growth now face greater risks of fire damage as well. ISO studies show that 55 percent of fire chiefs polled believed their communities were growing at moderate or heavy rates and 84 percent said the growth threatened department resources. For this reason, it’s vital that all homeowners understand the increased risk and take proactive measures to protect their homes from fire-based devastation.

Keep Homeowners Insurance Rates Low With Prevention

Given the reduced capacity for fire departments to respond to community needs, homeowners in every community should follow Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) guidelines for rural fire safety. FEMA’s “Rural Fire Prevention Checklist” offers guidance for homeowners in preventing and responding to fires, addressing actions to take in the home, landscaping guidelines and family preparedness information.

Homeowners should download the checklist for full details and implement the recommended steps. Using this information helps homeowners become less dependent on strapped fire department resources, while also helping to lower homeowners insurance rates.