Kearney, Missouri Fire Department Rating Improves

Property owners: When its time to renew that fire insurance policy, ask how rates differ among classifications of public protection against fire.

The responses can vary among insurance agents, but chances are that a reduced classification will keep premiums steady or possibly lower them.

Thats good news for residents within the Kearney Fire and Rescue Protection District, because the fire department has improved its fire-rating classification from a 5 to a 4, as determined by Insurance Services Office Inc.

Experts caution, however, that this rating must be considered alongside population growth.

A better fire protection could lower rates, but population growth could increase rates, said Wade Maupin of Shelter Insurance Co.

Kearney has grown more than 10-fold since receiving an 8 rating in 1962. Kearneys subsequent ratings have improved, dropping to 7 in 1981, 6 in 1994, 5 in 2003 and 4 officially this October.

Possible savings wont be known until individuals renew their policies, Maupin said.

I dont see them going down a whole lot, Maupin said. This is not going to trigger a huge, huge savings to people. It could save them some money, but not a lot.

And there are other factors. Lacking access to a fire hydrant or living more than five miles from a fire station can increase premiums $100 or $200, Maupin said.

Last week, the Board of Aldermen learned of the new rating from Fire Chief Larry Pratt.

Pratt explained that 10 percent of Insurance Services evaluation critiques the receiving and handling of fire alarms, 50 percent assesses the fire department and 40 percent considers the water supply.

The addition of six employees contributed to the improved rating, as did the distribution of water hydrants in rural areas, Pratt said. Plus, Kearney received mutual credit for working with the fire departments in Smithville, Holt, Lawson and Liberty.

Libertys fire department has a 4 rating; Excelsior Springs has a 5.The ratings typically are re-evaluated every 15 years, but communities can request a more frequent evaluation.

According to Insurance Services Web site, no Missouri communities have 1 or 2 rating. Forty-one (2.8 percent) earned a 3, and 130 (8.8 percent) received a 4.

More than 40 percent of the communities earned a 9.

Distributed by the Associated Press