Fire station closure could impact residents' insurance rates - WNEM TV 5

Fire station closure could impact residents' insurance rates

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)

A fire station in Saginaw is vacant for the first time in decades and 13 firefighters are out of a job.

Fire Station 3 closed on Jan. 31 after the federal government denied Saginaw a grant it had received for years.

"I'm in shock," said Benita Colmus, Saginaw resident.

Colmus can't believe the first station she has been driving past for years is no more. She is not alone. Several other residents expressed their concerns to TV5 on the station's closing.

The impact of the closing could go past loss of jobs and longer response times. It could mean paying more for home insurance.

"It's not just one or two fires happening. It's if we have a catastrophe and what's our response time in a catastrophe," said Chris Fetcher, chief operating officer of Future Insurance Agency in Saginaw.

Fetcher said due to the city's number of full and part-time staff, Saginaw has one of the lowest fire class ratings in the state. That means a lower rate for homeowners.

He said after the recent cutbacks those premiums could change.

"If the city of Saginaw went up from a three to a four, that would be a very little cost if any on that. But if they lost the rating where they went up to a five or six, it could be substantial," Fetcher said.

Fetcher said the solution would be paying more on your deductible to keep the insurance premiums down.

That might not be possible for some residents.

"We're talking people that have been in their homes or have passed it on. I'm a grandchild, so what does that tell you? So it's going to be painful. It's going to hurt," Colmus said.

Fetcher also believes Saginaw residents won't see a change in their rates right away.

"It's going to be up to the state of Michigan to come up with that response time and see if closing this does change it," he said.

A union representative for Saginaw firefighters said the SAFER grant was denied because FEMA changed the credentials to focus more on new hires instead of retaining firefighters.

A spokesperson for FEMA said due to the competitive nature of the SAFER program and the finite amount of available funding, the Saginaw Fire Department's application was not funded.

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