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Thread: Another pay for spray debacle

  1. #26
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    It is a foreign concept for me. I don't understand the subscription concept. Granted Maricopa is a big county, 9200 square miles or so and a hell of a big population, but still pretty rural I guess.

    I guess you get what you pay for, nothing. But to get a big *** bill for nothing?
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    It is clearly in "No Mans Land". Its way past the time to have a formal fire protection arrangement setup.

    If people complain about paying taxes for it, I would ask them how much they pay for cable TV and other entertainment. Fire Protection is an essential service.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FIRE117 View Post
    It is clearly in "No Mans Land". Its way past the time to have a formal fire protection arrangement setup.

    If people complain about paying taxes for it, I would ask them how much they pay for cable TV and other entertainment. Fire Protection is an essential service.
    The problem with your explanation is that people watch their cable TV every day. They do not ever think they will need the FD.
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    A couple of things in the article don't make sense.

    Before the incident area residents thought they had fire coverage because they were paying a “fire district assistance tax.” But it turns out that that is a countywide tax that funds volunteer fire districts.
    So they are paying a tax for a service they don't receive? I suppose this could be like people who don't have kids who pay for schools, but usually there are at least schools available to them if they ever had kids.

    Colin explained Rural Metro’s role in this fire saying, “In this case, [Surprise] firefighters responded. They did receive mutual aid from other departments. Once the fire is knocked down and brought under control, Rural Metro units then provide the overhaul and do essentially the mop up, if you will. So that takes a significant amount of time and a significant amount of resources." When KSAZ asked to see documentation about what the mutual aid agreement entailed, they were told by Colin, “We do have what I call a gentleman's agreement" and there was nothing in writing.
    Now this part really confuses me. So the Surprise fire department does respond, but then they bring in R-M as mutual aid to do mop up?

    So who does the tax money go to, Surprise, Rural Metro or just into a county slush fund?

    The price is surprising too, the state of Utah Department of Natural Resources lists their prices for equipment under contract (what they pay for equipment used to help on a state of Utah wildland fire).

    Type 1 engine $241/hr
    Type 1 water tender $147/hr
    Firefighter $21/hr
    Paramedic or overhead $26/hr

    So on a "gentleman's agreement" Rural metro is charging Maricopa County residents nearly 6x the rate the state pays for equipment that assists on their fires. (Yes I know Utah and Arizona are different states, but most of these rates are based on Fed rates so very similar).


    Edit
    Found the Fed cost estimate for wildland fires in Isuite, a program used to estimate cost of a fire. These assume crew cost with the daily rate (Type 1 assumes 4 FF, Type 2 or 3 assumes 3 FF). Cooperator is a fancy way of saying state or local government.

    Cooperator Type 1-3 Engines $3200 / day
    Cooperator Water tender $1600 / day
    Cooperator Tactical Water Tender $2000 / day
    Last edited by Here and there; 11-09-2013 at 01:52 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MemphisE34a View Post
    Outside of having no sympathy for communities that knowingly decline to pay for fire protection, in this situation the question I would have and would make issue over is this:

    Who called RM? If I were the home owner and chose not to pay RM because of their extended proximately to my home and the lack of benefit they would be able to provide, my position would be that I didn't subscribe to RM for their services and did not call them for any - the Surprise FD did on a mutual aid request, so bill them.

    My guess is that the home owner is going to be out of pocket no more than whatever his home insurance deductible is and RM will take whatever the insurance companies pays them.

    Quite honestly, in these economic times, I am surprised that more FD's are not submitting bills to residents to take whatever payment they can get from the insurance companies. Before everyone says that is what tax dollars are for, how is it any different than supplemental billing for EMS? It's not.
    Excellent points. Kentucky law allows us to charge up to $500 for a response. We don't bill the uninsured, but many adjusters will ask us to send them a bill and they gladly pay the $500.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MemphisE34a View Post
    The problem with your explanation is that people watch their cable TV every day. They do not ever think they will need the FD.
    Its all about priorities. I know people that will not provide basic necessities for their family, but will spend money for their pet's grooming.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    BINGO! They played the odds and lost. Now pay up. I feel not one bit of sympathy for them.
    Same here. I hope the responding companies at least do a search to save lives. I have no sympathy for the homeowner losing their possessions in this type of scenario.

    One of the many reasons I choose to live in an urban area that has pretty good public services. And willingly pay the taxes that provide them.
    Last edited by scfire86; 11-09-2013 at 06:18 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tree68 View Post
    I would opine that the county is failing it's citizens here. Maybe they aren't happy at the possibility of more taxes, but given the circumstances, even a $300 annual tax bill for fire protection would seem reasonable.
    Actually, if this is anything like the situation from TN not so long ago, the citizens are failing themselves. The people Obion County, TN have repeatedly voted DOWN a county wide fire tax which would provide for service. At least that was the case when that incident took place and got national coverage.

    I haven't bothered to check back in up there.
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    This is an example of smaller government. I'm sure the folks in this incident are going to fight this bill from R-M. I know I would. Given there is no official contracts between the two jurisdictions.
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    The truth is the citizens have the responsibility to care enough about the services they expect to know how they are funded, who provides them, AND the quality of those services. If they don't care enough to know then they are to blame for any misfortune that befalls them.

    Honestly I am sick to death of people that expect to be taken care of with no personal involvement on their part. The same people that hate government involvement then cry when government doesn't take care of their every need.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    The truth is the citizens have the responsibility to care enough about the services they expect to know how they are funded, who provides them, AND the quality of those services. If they don't care enough to know then they are to blame for any misfortune that befalls them.

    Honestly I am sick to death of people that expect to be taken care of with no personal involvement on their part. The same people that hate government involvement then cry when government doesn't take care of their every need.
    I generally say screw 'em as well, but I am not convinced that these homeowners are aware of how deep R-M will shove it into them if they have not paid.
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    Quote Originally Posted by EastKyFF View Post
    I generally say screw 'em as well, but I am not convinced that these homeowners are aware of how deep R-M will shove it into them if they have not paid.
    And yet, once again, if they had paid the subscription fee we would not even be talking about the Rural Metro bill, would we?
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    Wonder if they don't pay:: what will R/M do attach a lien on their burned down home??

    Once again the folks don't want government or taxes ::: BUT they do want services from that same government entity they so despise.

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    What happens if you don't pay the fee because you don't want the fire protection. If you live that far away from a private fire dept. what would be the point? What duty did they have to stay and perform a 20,000 dollar overhaul?
    If I lived next to a roofing business and one day I came home to find a new roof on my house that I did not ask for and got billed twenty thousand dollars for it I don't think I would pay for it.
    The whole system sounds screwed up.
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    But the flip side is --- in Tennessee the FD didn't fight the fire until it spread to a dues paying neighbor. They got bashed for that also.
    ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by conrad427 View Post
    What happens if you don't pay the fee because you don't want the fire protection. If you live that far away from a private fire dept. what would be the point? What duty did they have to stay and perform a 20,000 dollar overhaul?
    If I lived next to a roofing business and one day I came home to find a new roof on my house that I did not ask for and got billed twenty thousand dollars for it I don't think I would pay for it.
    The whole system sounds screwed up.
    The difference is that your falling in roof will have no affect on your neighbor's house or the surrounding woods/field/etc.

    I agree that the whole bill thing is stupid, being as the homeowner didn't call R/M and ask for service and another fire department was the primary responding agency.

    I do lay all blamce for the entire situation on the homeowner for not being infomed and knowing the specifics of the agreements and if they had fire protection or not.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GTRider245 View Post
    I do lay all blamce for the entire situation on the homeowner for not being infomed and knowing the specifics of the agreements and if they had fire protection or not.
    While the homeowner should get points off for not knowing what the fire protection arrangement is/was, I blame the municipality (in this case, the county) for not ensuring that all areas under their purview have fire protection. I'm sure that if you dial 9-1-1 looking for a cop, you'll get one, and you won't get a bill.

    One thing that I feel takes some of the heat off the homeowner in this case is that they apparently are paying some sort of county fire assessment - supposedly something that benefits fire districts in the county. Unfortunately, they don't live in one of those fire districts.

    Plenty of blame to go around.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    And yet, once again, if they had paid the subscription fee we would not even be talking about the Rural Metro bill, would we?
    But they made the call NOT to pay. So why did rural metro even show up? Clearly, the homeowner did not want their services. If they showed up as some kind of mutual aid deal, then that's between them and the requesting department. The requesting department should not have the power to decide that the homeowner MUST use rural metro servces (and pay the bill) when the homeowner already rejected them.

    I don't really want to be in the position of defending a homeowner who may have rolled the dice and lost, but it's his call. No one else should do it for him. Maybe it was an informed decision based on rural metro's ability, or inability, to truly protect his property.

    And 20K for overhaul is still ridiculous. That's unasked for overhaul.

    I'd love to know the speceific legalities involved. This is truly a horrible system. I don't see how any judge could enforce a claim to payment by rural metro.
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    Quote Originally Posted by captnjak View Post
    But they made the call NOT to pay. So why did rural metro even show up? Clearly, the homeowner did not want their services.
    I don't necessarily think there's sufficient evidence to support these conclusions. From what I read, it's ambiguous as to why ANY fire department showed up to this fire since it was located in an area without any fire service coverage and no subscription to RM itself. The article also seemed to infer that the homeowners in that area were under the impression that they had fire coverage based on them paying that "fire tax" that was actually going elsewhere. It's also unclear if the homeowner made the conscious decision to not pay for a subscription based on not wanting fire protection, thinking he already had fire protection based on the tax, or was just willing to roll the dice.

    The only thing clear about what the homeowner did not want from RM is the bill for their services, not necessarily the services themselves.


    If they showed up as some kind of mutual aid deal, then that's between them and the requesting department. The requesting department should not have the power to decide that the homeowner MUST use rural metro servces (and pay the bill) when the homeowner already rejected them.
    Well, this is kind of debatable. Fire departments across this nation have pretty much always had the power to decide whose services a property owner would use in the event of a fire or emergency. In my experience, if the primary department needs more help, whether it be pre-arranged first alarm automatic aid, subsequent alarm mutual aid or via special request, they do not ask the property owner what fire department they want to respond. They simply make the request for the resources they believe they need. The only difference in this situation is that one of the departments involved is private and bills for services and that complicates the situation.

    And 20K for overhaul is still ridiculous. That's unasked for overhaul.
    I would tend to agree that the $20K bill seems a bit much. I also think the story was ambiguous about exactly what actions RM provided in comparison to what actions the municipal fire department(s) provided. There seems to be an assumption that RM arrived after the fire was put out by the Surprise FD who then left while RM handled the overhaul, but I don't recall seeing anything to verify that was the case.

    I'd love to know the speceific legalities involved. This is truly a horrible system. I don't see how any judge could enforce a claim to payment by rural metro.
    I'm also curious about the specific legalities involved, but from a layman's perspective...........

    Let's say that you suffered a heart attack at a local store rendering you unconscious and no family/friends are with you at the time. A bystander calls 911 and requests an ambulance on your behalf. The ambulance comes and treats you and takes you to the hospital without any actual consent from you or your family since you're unconscious and they aren't present.

    You arrive at the hospital having been identified as suffering an MI (heart attack). The ER examines you and sends you to the cath lab where your medical problem is resolved and after a few days you get sent home.

    You didn't ask for any of the treatment you received or who provided it to you (since you were unconscious). Each step of the way, they just assumed that you would want your life to be saved and did it making decisions that they felt were in your best interests.

    A couple weeks later, the bills come in the mail. Is there no obligation to pay them since you didn't actually ask for any of the care you received? If the matter goes to court, the judge will enforce the claim.

    Is this situation that much different? It's pretty reasonable for a person to think that the property owner would want the fire department called if their property was on fire and for the fire department to then put out said fire upon their arrival and to get more help if needed in order to do that. Maybe an adjustment is in order if it's determined that the charges are grossly out of whack from industry norms, but if the response generates a bill for legally billable services, why wouldn't the judge uphold the claim?

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    Clearly the fire service is totally FUBAR in this area. That said, it would appear to be Surprise FD's incident, and that R-M was there at their request.

    I can't imagine it being legal for R-M to charge the homeowner. Surprise, yes, but not R-M. Especially when by R-M's own admission they have no written mutual aid agreement.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FireMedic049 View Post
    A couple weeks later, the bills come in the mail. Is there no obligation to pay them since you didn't actually ask for any of the care you received? If the matter goes to court, the judge will enforce the claim.

    Is this situation that much different? It's pretty reasonable for a person to think that the property owner would want the fire department called if their property was on fire and for the fire department to then put out said fire upon their arrival and to get more help if needed in order to do that. Maybe an adjustment is in order if it's determined that the charges are grossly out of whack from industry norms, but if the response generates a bill for legally billable services, why wouldn't the judge uphold the claim?
    The difference there is "implied consent". Remember that from EMT class? Court precedence has shown that there is reasonable cause to believe that a person suffering from a severe medical event and is not conscious would want their life to be saved. This is also why we in PA must see a DNR that is signed by a doctor and have it cleared by med command before we can refuse care.

    I have seen instances at fires where the homeowner has asked to "just let it burn" so there is less cleanup and they are not dealing with the constant reminders. Several articles (maybe all the same source, I am not sure) all stated that Surprise had the fire "knocked down" and "under control". Rural Metro was then called in for clean up. You may be able to claim implied consent on bringing the fire under control, or even say the increased danger to exposures necessitated the response. But to say that $20,000 worth of overhaul was necessary without consent is beyond, what I would call, reasonable and customary.

    Again the big difference between your example and the actual is the threat to life safety. Surprise billing would seem to be expected as they did not know if there was anyone home or they worried about exposure.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FireMedic049 View Post

    Let's say that you suffered a heart attack at a local store rendering you unconscious and no family/friends are with you at the time. A bystander calls 911 and requests an ambulance on your behalf. The ambulance comes and treats you and takes you to the hospital without any actual consent from you or your family since you're unconscious and they aren't present.

    You arrive at the hospital having been identified as suffering an MI (heart attack). The ER examines you and sends you to the cath lab where your medical problem is resolved and after a few days you get sent home.

    You didn't ask for any of the treatment you received or who provided it to you (since you were unconscious). Each step of the way, they just assumed that you would want your life to be saved and did it making decisions that they felt were in your best interests.

    A couple weeks later, the bills come in the mail. Is there no obligation to pay them since you didn't actually ask for any of the care you received? If the matter goes to court, the judge will enforce the claim.
    I see the point you're getting at, but it's not quite comparable. EMS (and medicine in general) operates around the doctrine of implied consent in the case of an unresponsive/incompetent patient. This is well written into laws all around the nation.

    If you don't want medical care in a situation where you may not be able to refuse treatment, you should keep a signed and valid DNR/Advance Directive on you 24/7.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HuntPA View Post
    The difference there is "implied consent". Remember that from EMT class? Court precedence has shown that there is reasonable cause to believe that a person suffering from a severe medical event and is not conscious would want their life to be saved. This is also why we in PA must see a DNR that is signed by a doctor and have it cleared by med command before we can refuse care.
    Yes, I'm well aware of "implied consent" and its implications, but thanks for missing the point being made.

    I have seen instances at fires where the homeowner has asked to "just let it burn" so there is less cleanup and they are not dealing with the constant reminders. Several articles (maybe all the same source, I am not sure) all stated that Surprise had the fire "knocked down" and "under control". Rural Metro was then called in for clean up.
    I just reread the article I saw about this and like I stated, the information is ambiguous as to exactly what happened. It stated that RM handled the overhaul to some extent, but also made it appear that they could've been there for the actual suppression too.

    You may be able to claim implied consent on bringing the fire under control, or even say the increased danger to exposures necessitated the response. But to say that $20,000 worth of overhaul was necessary without consent is beyond, what I would call, reasonable and customary.
    I'm not saying that $20,000 worth of overhaul was necessary and have stated that I thought that amount seemed excessive. Additionally, overhaul is part of the overall process of extinguishing fires. So, I would argue that under the notion of "implied consent" for putting out ones fire, our duty involves more than just knocking down the fire. It also involves making sure the fire is actually out. The only reason there is an issue with this incident is because a large bill was sent.

    Again the big difference between your example and the actual is the threat to life safety. Surprise billing would seem to be expected as they did not know if there was anyone home or they worried about exposure.
    Yes, in this particular case there doesn't appear to have been an immanent life safety threat, but that is irrelevant to the point being made. Both situations involved one party providing services in an emergency situation based on the assumption that the person receiving the services would have wanted them to intervene and then billing for the services.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ATFDFF View Post
    I see the point you're getting at, but it's not quite comparable. EMS (and medicine in general) operates around the doctrine of implied consent in the case of an unresponsive/incompetent patient. This is well written into laws all around the nation.
    Yes, the exact details aren't quite the same and I wasn't trying to say that. I was making the point that the fire service is essentially operating under the same basic concept of implied consent in the absence of the property owner upon arrival. Yet, in the medical situation, there's acceptance of being billed despite the patient not having actually requested or consented to the treatment provided. So, from that limited perspective, is the FD billing them for services provided much different?

    However, unlike an EMS situation, the fire department can override the property owner's request to not intervene. That ability is also established in laws around the nation.

    If you don't want medical care in a situation where you may not be able to refuse treatment, you should keep a signed and valid DNR/Advance Directive on you 24/7.
    Sure, but unless you're wearing it like a necklace or it's clutched in your hands, there's a good chance that those providing treatment may not find it until after the fact. Regardless, you'll still be on the hook for the bill for that treatment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FireMedic049 View Post
    I don't necessarily think there's sufficient evidence to support these conclusions. From what I read, it's ambiguous as to why ANY fire department showed up to this fire since it was located in an area without any fire service coverage and no subscription to RM itself. The article also seemed to infer that the homeowners in that area were under the impression that they had fire coverage based on them paying that "fire tax" that was actually going elsewhere. It's also unclear if the homeowner made the conscious decision to not pay for a subscription based on not wanting fire protection, thinking he already had fire protection based on the tax, or was just willing to roll the dice.

    The only thing clear about what the homeowner did not want from RM is the bill for their services, not necessarily the services themselves.


    Well, this is kind of debatable. Fire departments across this nation have pretty much always had the power to decide whose services a property owner would use in the event of a fire or emergency. In my experience, if the primary department needs more help, whether it be pre-arranged first alarm automatic aid, subsequent alarm mutual aid or via special request, they do not ask the property owner what fire department they want to respond. They simply make the request for the resources they believe they need. The only difference in this situation is that one of the departments involved is private and bills for services and that complicates the situation.

    I would tend to agree that the $20K bill seems a bit much. I also think the story was ambiguous about exactly what actions RM provided in comparison to what actions the municipal fire department(s) provided. There seems to be an assumption that RM arrived after the fire was put out by the Surprise FD who then left while RM handled the overhaul, but I don't recall seeing anything to verify that was the case.



    I'm also curious about the specific legalities involved, but from a layman's perspective...........

    Let's say that you suffered a heart attack at a local store rendering you unconscious and no family/friends are with you at the time. A bystander calls 911 and requests an ambulance on your behalf. The ambulance comes and treats you and takes you to the hospital without any actual consent from you or your family since you're unconscious and they aren't present.

    You arrive at the hospital having been identified as suffering an MI (heart attack). The ER examines you and sends you to the cath lab where your medical problem is resolved and after a few days you get sent home.

    You didn't ask for any of the treatment you received or who provided it to you (since you were unconscious). Each step of the way, they just assumed that you would want your life to be saved and did it making decisions that they felt were in your best interests.

    A couple weeks later, the bills come in the mail. Is there no obligation to pay them since you didn't actually ask for any of the care you received? If the matter goes to court, the judge will enforce the claim.

    Is this situation that much different? It's pretty reasonable for a person to think that the property owner would want the fire department called if their property was on fire and for the fire department to then put out said fire upon their arrival and to get more help if needed in order to do that. Maybe an adjustment is in order if it's determined that the charges are grossly out of whack from industry norms, but if the response generates a bill for legally billable services, why wouldn't the judge uphold the claim?
    Your EMS scenario simply does not apply. In the State of Wisconsin there is Implied Consent for medical treatment in an emergency if you are incapacitated.
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