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Homewood fire protection rating upgraded, may affect insurance rates

Many Homewood home and business owners may see reduced insurance rates soon after the village’s fire response ratings were recently upgraded.
The Insurance Services Office (ISO)raised the village’s Public Protection Classification rating from Class 4 to Class 2 at the end of May. The ratings are based on a 10-class scale. Towns rated with a low number on the scale are expected to have better responses to fires. 
ISO provides the ratings to insurance companies. Fire Chief Bob Grabowski said that most use the PPC classification to review rates for homeowners and property insurance.  
Homeowners will probably only save about $50 to $100 annually, Grabowski said. The bigger insurance premium savings will be for commercial and industrial business owners. 
“The majority of people should see a decrease down the road,” he said. “The rates will stay the same or they won’t go up. Even if they don’t get better, they won’t get worse.” 
A review of Homewood’s emergency call response, fire department and water system was conducted in early 2018, Grabowski said. Of the more than 50,000 fire departments in the country, only 1,324 are rated Class 2 and 241 at Class 1, Grabowski said. That puts Homewood in the top 3 percent of departments in the U.S.
“With this classification, I think a lot of the departments (in the area) that were Class 4 will probably move to a Class 3,” Grabowski said. “I think a lot of the departments in the metro Chicago area have been working toward this change so I think you’ll see a lot of changes, not just us.”
The PPC is based on a 100-point scale determined by the ISO. Emergency communication, like E-Com emergency dispatch center, which is based in Homewood and serves nine area communities, can earn up to 10 points. The fire department can earn 50 points and a municipality’s water supply system can earn 40 points. 
“Our water distribution in town is fantastic and that’s a credit to our public works,” Grabowski said. There’s not an area in town where a crew or a fire engine can’t draw water under high pressure from a fire hydrant, he said.
Another five-and-a-half points are available through “community risk reduction” like public education policies and fire prevention.
Homewood earned an 83 rating. The village was last rated in 2013, Grabowski said, when it was assessed at 65 points.
“We made a lot of significant changes to our internal operations and how we do different things,” Grabowski said. “To be honest with you, we were hoping for a (Class) 3 and we were really surprised that we got a (Class) 2.”
Grabowski said the Homewood fire department’s additional spending on training, credit for personnel on duty and improved auto-aid response from neighboring departments made the upgrade possible.
Reviews were conducted every 10 years until a change was made in 2014. Grabowski said the classifications are now done every five years.

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