Georgia Insurance and Fire Safety Commissioner John Oxendine has warned that Atlanta’s plans to deal with its budget crisis by reducing fire service in some neighborhoods not only could put public safety at risk, but also could result in increases in homeowner insurance premiums.

If response time is increased because fire stations are closed or have reduced operations caused by not having sufficient staffing, Oxendine said, “the safety of citizens will be substantially reduced.”

The commissioner said he has asked the Insurance Services Office, the agency that rates the preparedness of fire stations across the United States, for an impact evaluation of how the changes in Atlanta will affect service, particularly response time.

A negative rating by that agency could increase homeowner insurance premiums, he said. Atlanta currently has a rating of 2 on a scale of 1 to 9, with 1 being the highest rating.

Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran recently announced the closing of Fire Station 23 at 1549 Howell Mill Road and decided to stop using the truck at Fire Station 12 to meet the most recent budget cuts requested for his department by Mayor Shirley Franklin.

He also instituted a brownout plan that could temporarily remove from service the engine and truck at Station 26 at 2970 Howell Mill Road, which is three miles from Station 23. Both stations service portions of Buckhead.

— John Schaffner