By Sean Wardwell
Killeen Daily Herald

Killeen residents could see a drop in their property insurance rates since the city improved its fire suppression rating.

The Insurance Services Office, an advisory corporation that analyzes and assesses risks for insurers, lowered the city’s fire suppression rating from a 4 to a 2. The company’s system rates a 10 as being worst-prepared, with 1 being best-prepared.

“Residential and commercial property owners could see up to a 15 percent reduction in hazard insurance,” said J.D. Gardner, Killeen’s fire chief. “This rating is an awesome achievement for the city of Killeen.”

Out of the 45,000 cities surveyed by the insurance office, only 585, or 0.7 percent, are able to achieve a class 2 rating. This places Killeen in the 99th percentile nationwide for fire protection, said Gardner. Copperas Cove also has a rating of 2, while Harker Heights’ rating is 3.

“I think it’s absolutely great that the city was able to lower their rating so it will help the citizens here,” said Mayor Timothy Hancock. “It’s a good thing that we’re finally seeing the results of all the effort we’ve put into the fire department.”

The city requested a review by the insurance office because it hadn’t been evaluated since 1996. Evaluations usually are completed about every 10 years. Factors that contributed to the city’s improved ranking include new fire stations and changes to the city’s water system.

“It was a citywide effort that allowed us to get this remarkable rating,” said Gardner.

But the rating doesn’t cover the entire city. Some residences south of Stan Schlueter Loop along State Highway 195 are outside a five-mile radius of a fire station and were given a 10 rating, with the insurance office viewing them as unprotected, Gardner said.

Gardner said he doesn’t believe the city got a fair assessment of those areas, as they are covered by mutual-aid agreements with several county fire departments. He requested a hearing in April to give those areas a better rating.

The new rating starts June 1. But Garner said insurance agents will have access to the rating after March 15 so property owners can contact their agents about any possible savings.