Fire district changes mean savings for homeowners

Jun. 25, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

With the approval of seven new Lee County fire service districts Monday night, nearly every county resident will live in a rated fire district — resulting in substantial homeowner insurance savings.

The public hearings concerning the seven proposed fire districts were held in conjunction with the Lee County Board of Commissioners's 6 p.m. meeting at the Lee County Government Center. 

Property owners who change from an unrated to a rated fire district — meaning they are within six travel miles of a fire station — will reap the benefits in their homeowners insurance rates, according to Lee County Emergency Services Director Shane Seagroves.

A study completed in 2005 by the Lee County Fire Advisory Board showed the need to increase the amount of residents living in a rated fire district, Seagroves said, through the addition of four fire substations. Once the substations were installed, he said the board began the process of redrawing the service district lines to cover more property owners.

In 2005, only 75 percent of Lee County taxpayers were in a rated fire district, and now, the county is at 87 percent, he said.

"We are in the final stage of creating these seven service districts," Seagroves said. "By doing this, we will put 99.9 percent of the taxpayers in a rated fire district." Seagroves added that he knew of one homeowner who will save hundreds, but individual savings will depend on the property size and other factors.

Lee County Manager John Crumpton said making sure all residents are in a rated district has been a priority of the Lee County Fire Advisory Board for several years.

"It is finally coming to fruition," he said. "It's a good thing for everyone in the county."

Lee County Fire Advisory Board Chairman Donald Andrews, who also serves as the Broadway mayor, said everyone who is impacted by the change either went from an unrated district to a rated district — or moved into a better rated district.

"If people are moving, they were being improved," he said. "No one is getting a worse rating. … We wanted to make sure folks we were recommending change, we're improving their rating."

Both Andrews and Seagroves said they've received phone calls from people asking questions about the change, but have not received negative comments.

"We think it's going to be a good move for the folks it impacts," Andrews said. "It will definitely be a positive move for the folks in terms of their rating and the cost of insurance."

The change goes into effect July 1, and people will begin to see the impact on their insurance this fall.