Fire ratings and how they can affect home insurance - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Fire ratings and how they can affect home insurance

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YAKIMA, WA - Usually, firefighters deal with some of the most heartbreaking and tragic situations when they respond to an emergency. But the Yakima Fire Department is celebrating some good news this week.

Most people won't realize that how the department functions affects what it costs to buy property insurance.

Every five years, fire departments across the state are evaluated by the Washington Surveying and Rating Bureau. The non-profit looks at how departments handle things like fire safety, 9-1-1 dispatch, and even the water supply system.

Then they're rated on a scale from 1-10 and given a fire class rating. The lower the number, the better. Yakima and Union Gap improved in their fire class rankings. Union Gap went from a 5 to a 4, and Yakima improved from a 4 to a 3.

Yakima Fire Chief Bob Stewart says there were improvements across the board, calling them unprecedented. 

"Even though this is a rating for the fire department specifically, so many departments and divisions came into it," Chief Stewart said. "We share it as a team so it's a victory for all of us."

Union Gap's ranking improved thanks in part to Yakima Fire providing fire and emergency medical response to the city through a partnership that's been in place for about three years.

And because of the improved rankings for both cities, some insurance premiums might be going down. Individual homeowners could see some savings.

Chief Stewart also says there will be a big benefit on the commercial side.

The new ratings take effect on March 1st, 2018.