Irving business owners could see a drop in property insurance rates if the city’s fire protection rating gets an upgrade from a national insurance group by the end of the year, city fire officials said.
Recent improvements within the Irving Fire Department could boost the city to a Class 1 rating — the highest possible — from the Insurance Services Office’s re-evaluation of the city’s fire preparedness. A city better protected from fire-related insurance losses can help lower property insurance rates, which benefits current business owners and can attract new ones into Irving, Assistant Chief Jack Taylor said.
Irving currently holds a Class 2 rating out of a possible 10. The city expects to be re-evaluated by the end of November.
“It’s great for a city to have that rating since there are a few around. The rating doesn’t benefit the fire department, but it does benefit the city,” Taylor said. “It will help bring in new businesses.”
Larger corporations are more likely to move into cities with a higher score because it saves them money on insurance rates and it shows the community is safe, said Jesse Williams, head of the Public Protection Classification Program in Texas.
Homeowners could also see a slight decline in insurance rates.
Getting an extension
The ISO rating is based on the city’s water distribution, fire department equipment and fire department facilities. Cities are typically evaluated every five years but they can request an extension if the city is able to make improvements within that time frame that will grant it a higher rating, said Jerry Hagins, the spokesman for the Texas Department of Insurance.
Irving asked for a two-year extension in August 2014 to avoid receiving another Class 2 rating, Taylor said. The city was able to finalize plans for a new $4 million fire training facility that it will share with Grand Prairie and a new $3.9 million fire station that will hold the city’s fifth tiller truck.
The city will still get points for its improvements to the fire department even though both the fire training facility and Fire Station 12 are expected to open in early 2017.
“Our City Council and our mayor were very supportive of getting Station 12. It was something that residents needed,” Taylor said.
The improvements to the city’s fire department not only help insurance rates, but they will also help resolve current service issues in Irving.
The new fire station, which will be at the corner of Ridgepoint Drive and Regent Boulevard, will cover the northwest part of Irving, an area where fire coverage currently fails National Fire Protection Associations standards. Under the association guidelines, the fire department must arrive at the scene of a fire within eight minutes of a dispatch call. The department currently runs between two to four minutes over that, Taylor said.
The new tiller truck will help the department have more access to areas with a lot of new developments and construction — such as the new Texas Stadium area — that have narrow street access and many circular turns, Taylor said.
“We do the best we can with the resources that we have,” Taylor said. “When you depend on the city budget and taxes, we are just a small piece of that pie. You always try to get what you need to provide the best services you can.”
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