Here we go again:
Here we go again:
Thanks, Rural-Metro, for making the entire fire service look like a bunch of tools.
At least all these other stories involve an upfront notification of what would be charged and the option to choose not to have them fight the fire (and incur the charges).
from the article....
residents of this unincorporated area have few options: Buy a yearly $500 subscription from Rural Metro for fire coverage, take the gamble of getting a bill if they have a house fire, or form their own fire district which could take months.
i too am of the agree side of things.. taxes are there for a reason, insurance is there for a reason.. it might not happen it probably won't happen, but for $50 a month i will pay for fire protection or any other type of health/car insurance
The Surprise FD got there first. R-M was mutual aid to them. Who are residents "supposed" to be getting their fire protection from? If Surprise is closer, I can see the homeowner being on the hook for a bill from them, if they chose not to pay dues, but NOT for a mutual aid department.
R-M was 20 miles away. What the heck would you be willing to pay for fire protection that will come from that far away?
Let's assume that the homeowner had equal choice between paying Surprise FD and R-M and chose to pay neither. Was he made aware of what a large bill he could potentially receive from R-M if they came to him?
You want lower taxes you get fewer services. Sorry about you're house but you didn't want to fund a fire department in the form of taxes or a subscription fee, so you gambled and lost.
It looked like this guy is in the country and it took a long time for anyone to get there. I only live eight miles out of town but my house would surely be judged a total loss if it were to catch fire. I might have a hard time paying a fire department any money if it were twenty miles away. I don't care for the idea of private fire companies anyway, for some reason.
At least the fire department showed up and put out the fire (unlike similar instances in the past in different parts of the country).
It is ashamed that fire protection is not afforded to all but, especially in today's economy and with the public's current mindset, it appears the homeowner knew the risks (i.e. not subscribing for fire protection on an annual basis) and, unfortunately, had his bluff called.
I don't think it matters what the homeowner knew or didn't know, or what he did or did not gamble on. This is about a ridiculous 20K tab from a so-called fire company that didn't even put the fire out. They showed up and overhauled! 20K? Give me a break. And why should he even consider paying any amount when it seems there is little chance of anyone saving his house from fire?
Why would any homeowner want to pay $500/year for fire protection when the fire department charging for it is 20 miles away. We have some places in our area that are further than that. If it is a wildfire, not usually that big of a problem. If it is a house or a car wrecks and catches on fire, we try to get there as quickly as we can, but that by no means guarantees a positive outcome. Anything more than maybe 10 miles out, and it seems like the odds of saving much start decreasing dramatically by the mile. Why pay for fire service that won't save your property, anyway?
And the charges are extremely high. That's a very, very padded bill. If I were the homeowner, I would probably litigate the charges, especially if I didn't call the department.
Again, the usual procedure for subscription FDs is to send an anual statement of subscription dues. The homeowner has the choice of paying that and having fire protection or not paying it and either having no fire protection at all, or paying whatever the FD decides to charge for services rendered. You may not like it, but it isn't really up to you to like it or not. The citizens of this area have every right to form their own fire department and offer fire protection. Evidently it is not enough of a concern for them to do that. Once again, I feel no sympathy for people that play the cheap skate game and then cry the blues when their cheapness bites them hard in the azz.
Just to be clear, I am not saying subscription fire service is an ideal situation, but when there is no system in place for taxes to be collected to fund the FD it is what they have to do. If no one paid the subscription fee how log do you imagine the FD wuld stay in operation? Who would fund the equipment, utilities, fuel for the trucks, training, and everything else needed to run a fire department?
To be blunt, the homeowner SHOULD have known who his fire department was, where it was located, and what his funding obligations were to get fire protection. If the travel is too much then the locals should have created their own local FD. Heck maybe his house is all alone out in the middle of no where. Why wasn't his house sprinklered? If I lived in the boonies my house sure would be.
The problem is whatever goes wrong today is ALWAYS someone else's fault. Noone wants to say how they may be responsible for their own problems.
A harumph for the governor from me, too. If they're 20 miles away, what are they providing you for your $500? Certainly no insurance savings, and no prospect of saving lives or property.
When people are strapped for cash, why on earth would they send five Benjamins a year to a fire department that provides them zero benefit?
You know what people pay us in my district? $23. A year. It's lower than we would choose; we think $30 would help us without being excessive (and that's what we charged back when it was voluntary; it is now on the property tax bills).
If we could clock people 20 miles away for $500 or extort them for $20K, well, I would not feel human.
In this case the question for me is would paying the 500 have really protected them? It appears as if it would not have.
And the 20K is still ridiculous.
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.
In most fire protection arrangements, the idea is to collect a tax to either purchase firefighting equipment or contract for it from another entity (city, etc.). Essentially, the taxpayers are pooling their money together to pay for fire protection.
Something tells me, that this area in Arizona is newly developed and has had no formal fire protection arrangement. Its time for these residents to find a solution to this "no mans land" and obtain a formal fire protection arrangement.
Problem is, is that people think they "dial 911" and the service is there to provide to them. The service whether it is fire or EMS, must have a service to provide it. Since they are not located in a fire district, Rural/Metro offered to provide it.
These residents need to approach their local government (township, county, etc.) and request that a formal fire protection agreement be provided. Also, tell the local government what service they expect, such as response times, etc.. Since the fire service routinely provides EMS, these residents should also request that service, if they want it. Then the residents need to step up and offer to pay for the service, such as a tax. Most states have statutes, which allow property taxes to be levied on accessed property.
Its up to these residents to act, not blame anyone else for being in "no mans land".
It would be interesting to know how many people live in the area, where the nearest dept. is, how far from town and how big the county is.
Plug this lat and lon into your favorite map program for a rough idea of where the fire was, per FoxPhoenix.com: N 33.75310 W 112.41223.
R/M's website lists the following stations:
Rio Verde Foothills
There are two "west county" stations. One appears to be not too far south of Surprise.
If this is an unincorporated part of Maricopa County, it somewhat surprises me that Surprise even rolled. I'd think they'd be limited under normal circumstances to their municipality. One of their stations, however, is located on 163rd, one of the roads listed as the location of the fire, and not really all that far from the fire scene.
That said, it does appear that the subscription model is how things are being done outside of Phoenix and it's 'burbs.
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.