NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WZTV) — Project Nashville has an eye-opening look at how Metro Government's budget decisions for the Nashville Fire Department may also directly impact your personal budget.
Tim Wolf moved to Nashville to pursue music. He's one of nearly 100 new people moving to Nashville every single day.
His music genre of Americana Alternative collides daily with the sounds of construction outside his front door. Wolf said he considered Los Angeles or New York, but decided to live in Music City instead. He made the move to Nashville's outskirts not realizing that Nashville has only added one new fire station since 2001. Yet, the greater Nashville area has added more than half a million new people and thousands more homes built farther away from a fire station.
“We're not growing with it. They're building neighborhoods everywhere. If we don't start placing fire stations out in these areas, the homeowner will suffer the consequences," Nashville Fire Union President Mark Young said of the situation.
What are the consequences? Potentially higher insurance premiums due to higher property loss because when a fire starts, time is of the essence. That's why each fire department has a fire insurance rating, one being the best and 10 for the worst.
Project Nashville's analysis shows Nashville is trailing other cities in fire insurance ratings. Knoxville, Brentwood and Memphis rate a two. Chattanooga and Franklin rank at one. Nashville's urban area is a four and to Wolf's surprise a nine where he lives.
He said it's concerning, though he wasn't aware of it until Project Nashville brought it to his attention.
"A city that has a tax base of this city, we should be one," Young said.
Steve Williams, founder of Williams Insurance Group explained the ratings.
"One and a nine are going to be a huge difference. The rate could be 50% to 100% difference," Williams said.
For example, if you live in a $350,000 house in Franklin with a one fire rating, you would have about a $1,500 premium. Take the same house in the nine rating of Nashville and your premium would jump to $2,200. Williams said it's possible it could be even more, it all just depends.
“The reason we're behind is we just don't have as you've already reported, we don’t have the coverage that we need to have,” Young said.
Williams sums up the importance of a home's fire rating this way.
"Any time a fire department gets better on their code, it does help the rate, but it's also peace of mind. You're going to have a better equipped fire department and quicker response times, and that's just good for everybody," Williams said.
Wolf has invested a lot in his home music studio. He wanted a big space with high ceilings. He said he wouldn't want to lose it all in a fire or face higher premiums year after year because Metro government hasn't invested in fire infrastructure.
Follow this link to find your area's fire safety rating.
Every Wednesday on FOX 17 News at 9 p.m., Project Nashville continues to dig deeper into our city's growth, if it's being managed to preserve your quality of life and what needs to be done.