A major Mid-Michigan city is preparing to lose more than a dozen firefighters for lack of funding.
The Saginaw Fire Department was not selected to receive federal funding it relies on to pay 13 firefighters. That loss of personnel could mean one of the city's fire stations will close, potentially increasing response times.
Beyond the safety of residents, that could raise the rates for homeowners' insurance as well.
"Safety reasons and monetary. Who wants to spend more? I don't," said Kim Stephens, Saginaw resident.
Stephens doesn't want to see his property insurance premiums go up. That could eventually happen after the city announced it will be laying off firefighters.
Stephens owns Kim's Comfort Center and is worried about what a longer response time could mean if a fire hit his store and the subsequent insurance claim that comes with it.
"An extra minute could be a lot of difference. I mean fires are strange critters," Stephens said.
Mark Bricault, homeowner, would also like to see his insurance rate stay put.
"It's not a real issue right now, but it can be if they're going to do this," Bricault said.
The Saginaw Fire Department was recently denied the renewal of its SAFER grant which would have gave the department federal money to pay for at least 11 firefighters.
Those firefighters will be laid off at the end of January and one of the city's four stations will close.
Bricault hopes the fire station closest to his home is not the one that gets axed.
"It's a 1912 house you know. So yeah, it could go up quickly and spread," Bricault said.
The Insurance Alliance of Michigan said insurance rates could go up.
Fire suppression is just one factor to determine premiums. Insurance companies also look at a fire department's equipment, training, water supply and proximity to the home. Changes in those factors will likely impact premiums, but how much depends on each individual insurance carrier.
As for Bricault, he is waiting to see which fire station will get closed.
"I hope that it doesn't close and I wish to God that they don't," Bricault said.
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