LARGO – Fire Chief Michael Wallace encouraged businesses and residents served by Largo Fire Rescue Sept. 21 to contact their insurance agents because they should receive a reduction in the cost of their homeowners insurance.
The Insurance Services Office, an independent company, evaluates communities nationwide on their fire-supression capabilities. The rating scale is 1-10 with 1 being the highest level of fire protection available and 10 being no fire protection at all.
Largo historically has been rated as a Class 3 department.
As a result of the evaluation conducted in February, Largo Fire Rescue was rated 2, for the first time in the department’s history. The rating goes into effect Oct. 1.
“What they (insurance companies) tell me is that the rates will go down,” Wallace said.
He said that the savings will affect every individual who has a business or owns a home in the Largo Fire District, the Belleair Bluffs Fire District, the Highpoint Fire District and the town of Belleair.
“I think it’s important for the residents to know that if they contact their insurance companies Oct. 1 and ask for their insurance rates to be re-rated ... they will see some reductions in their insurance premiums.”
He said commercial properties will see more of a decrease than residential properties.
“Businesses will fair better. In these economic times, that’s actually a good thing,” Wallace said.
He said the City Commission’s commitment to public safety brought the improvement in the classification. Of the 48,000 departments in the country, only 585 have achieved a classification of 2.
Commissioner Curtis Holmes, who is in the insurance business, said residents should call their agent Oct. 1.
“Call your agent. You’ll get your credit immediately. Don’t wait. If you wait until renewal, you may wait a year. The insurance company is going to sit there and say ‘thanks for not calling,’ ” Holmes said.
The ISO’s evaluation included a review of available water supply, communications systems and fire department staffing, training, equipment and geographic distribution of fire companies.
Holmes asked how the department would be classified as a 1.
Wallace said obtaining such a rating would not be cost-effective because of the investment it would take, such as building two new fire stations and adding a significant amount of people.
Fewer than 100 fire departments in the nation have a classification of 1, he said