• Fire-risk map redrawings spark concerns over taxes

    By: Jim Strickland


    CARROLLTON, Ga. - Homeowners across Georgia are learning they live too far away from the nearest firehouse.

    Consumer investigator Jim Strickland discovered the company that rates fire risk is now using satellites to redraw the maps and insurance companies are refiguring lots of bills.

    "This is no fire protection for these people," explained Carroll County Fire Chief Tracy Smith as he pointed to a large area in red on a county map.

    "No fire protection at all?" asked Strickland.

    "As far as insurance premiums go," replied Smith.

    Smith said there are 500 structures in the area, including an entire subdivision.

    "Do you consider yourself unprotected from fire?" Strickland asked homeowner Don Burk.

    "I didn't till just now," he said.

    The same GPS technology that helps the firefighters find addresses is helping insurance rating company ISO refigure how far homes are from the firehouse.

    "Of course, the fire station has to be within 5 road miles of your home and your home has to be within 1,000 feet of a hydrant to get that best rating," Smith said.

    Residents who suddenly find themselves outside the 5-mile zone are facing higher insurance bills.

    "It's something that's a grave concern to citizens and it's something we're going to look at to see how we can implement and get these protection classes set down," said board chairman Marty Smith.

    Carroll County is now looking to build two more firehouses. Getting the money to pay more firefighters is the key.

    The Northwest Georgia Fire Chiefs Association said the GPS maps and the resulting insurance increases are a concern statewide.

    "Technology's great, but it also has its downside," said Chief Smith.

    ISO National Director of Community Hazard Mitigation Robert Cobb released a statement saying in part, "The 5 mile guideline has always been measured in road miles. The advent of GPS technology has made measuring the distance more accurate."


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