Insurance rating improves for Benton County Fire District 4

WEST RICHLAND, WA – Home and business owners in the unincorporated areas of Benton County Fire District 4 could see a reduction in fire insurance premiums as of September 1. The Washington Surveying and Rating Bureau (WSRB) recently notified the fire district that its insurance rating had improved from Protection Class 6 to a 5. Residents in the City of West Richland have maintained a Protection Class rating of 4.

A Protection Class 5 rating applies to dwelling and commercial properties located in the unincorporated areas of Benton County Fire District 4, within five road miles of a responding fire station, and having standard fire hydrant distribution and water supply. (The same rules apply for properties in the city to qualify for a Protection Class rating of 4.)

Protection Class ratings for individual dwelling and commercial properties are available free of charge by calling WSRB Customer Service at (206) 217-0101 or emailing customerservice@wsrb.com. Residents are encouraged to contact their insurance agents to determine what effect this new community protection classification in the unincorporated areas of Benton County Fire District 4 will have on their insurance premiums.

“Emergency service capabilities are directly linked to fire insurance rates,” said Fire Chief Bill Whealan. “Community support for facilities, apparatus and personnel makes the difference in annual premiums.”

Chief Whealan is encouraged by these results, but says that there is still room improvement. Benton County Fire District 4 is planning to build a new station on the west side to reduce response times. Staffing and equipping a third station also will improve emergency response capabilities district-wide and the agency’s ability to respond to multiple emergencies that happen at the same time. 

The fire district purchased property in the Red Mountain area and is considering a bond sometime in 2018 to fund station construction and replace aging apparatus. There will be a public process before a final decision is made by the Board of Fire Commissioners early next year.

Like most fire agencies, daily emergency operations at Benton County Fire District 4 are funded through two property tax levies – one for fire and another for emergency medical service (EMS). Capital items, such as apparatus and facilities, are usually funded through voter-approved bonds. In 2016, Benton County Fire District 4 paid off a bond that purchased ambulances and renovated a station to improve its EMS program.

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