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Thread: Charging fees for special events

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    Default Charging fees for special events

    Trying to find out if any fire departments charge fees for special events in their jurisdictions, such as weekend motorsport races.
    I'm talking about an event lasting two long days, that the promoter and property owners make a profit on, vehicles racing side by side up a ski slope with snow on it. These vehicles include everything from daily driver's to super-mods with racing fuel and nitros-oxide. We are on standby at the event in case of accidents and/or fires as what happened this past weekend, we had both during the event.
    Last edited by bdfd3310; 04-09-2014 at 01:56 PM.

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    Yes if a fire crew is required or fire inspector is required

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    Absolutely. Under the fire code, certain types of special events require permits (with plan reviews ahead of time) and inspection of the site prior to opening to the public- things like large cooking operations, membrane structures, etc etc etc.

    Events that require a stand-by company are usually invoiced a fee.
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    Rarely. In fact, in my 30 years, can't think of a time where we "charged" any fee. But I also believe it would depend on the event as to whether a fee should be charged or not.

    We do a fireworks standby every week at our boardwalk. Takes about an hour. Most guys enjoy it, no fee asked. There is also a very large Festival in September each year, on a Saturday. We have crews in each station for the day due to traffic congestion and such. We don't charge a fee, but we use the day as a fundraiser for us and charge for parking.

    An event that would be all day for a whole weekend....I can see charging a fee for that.
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    We don't really have any big events like that in our jurisdiction, but we do standby for several events at the county fair. We have what's basically the Superbowl of harness racing over two days. It's not in our township, but several of the depts support it. There's also demolition derby and a couple of other things. We have supported a few other events outside of the twp.

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    We rarely get asked to do such standbys.

    Most of the time, the local department uses such situations as a PR tool, and possibly a fundraiser, and does not charge.

    Of course, we don't deal with payroll either, as we are purely volunteer (as opposed to paid-on-call).

    Our local not-for-profit ambulance service does charge for events where an organization specifically requests coverage - but they usually have to pay the crew, too. If coverage for a public event is not requested, but the duty rig shows up anyhow to "show the colors," there's no charge.
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    I know of a city FD that charges $100 for a non-transport EMS calls. FD shows up patient decides they don't want to be transported anymore or they want to go themselves, they are billed $100.

    Absurd eh?
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    We do EMS details, public safety details, cutting and welding and blasting details. Detail rate is $40 and hour, 4 hour minimum. Details requiring more than one person, the senior firefighter or officer gets $45 an hour. There is also a 10% administrative fee.
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    Like DC Gonzo, we do many details, mostly confined space rescue team coverage, but also provide EMS to events, and once in a while some sort of fire/hazard related detail. Per our City Council, any scheduled event (non-911 emergency) requires a fee (they can choose to waive it). Our con-sapce details is billed out at the actual OT rate + admin fee for the personnel. Other details (EMS at football games, road races, etc) are billed as an EMS standby with a flat rate.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fieronfire View Post
    I know of a city FD that charges $100 for a non-transport EMS calls. FD shows up patient decides they don't want to be transported anymore or they want to go themselves, they are billed $100.

    Absurd eh?
    Not really - It's still wear and tear on the equipment, not to mention the manpower and the possibility of another, real call coming in while you're dealing with that hangnail.

    Were it not for the fact that most of those people will never pay the bill (or we will, via Medicaid), it might be a deterent to such BS calls...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fieronfire View Post
    I know of a city FD that charges $100 for a non-transport EMS calls. FD shows up patient decides they don't want to be transported anymore or they want to go themselves, they are billed $100.

    Absurd eh?
    I would bet this came out of a series of frequent flyer calls from someone or several someone's calling the ambulance for ludicrous reasons and then refusing transport. The career FD I was on had a lady that would call the fire department multiple times a day for whatever the latest ailment was she saw on tv. We were there 7 times in one day before the police and social service were involved.

    What is absurd is people abusing the absolute crap out of EMERGENCY medical services with nonsense calls. Especially when they become repeated nonsense calls.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tree68 View Post
    Not really - It's still wear and tear on the equipment, not to mention the manpower and the possibility of another, real call coming in while you're dealing with that hangnail.

    Were it not for the fact that most of those people will never pay the bill (or we will, via Medicaid), it might be a deterent to such BS calls...
    I pay taxes to pay for wear and tear, and also payroll. Why should I be double taxed?? If my city can buy bicycles and smart cars for people to rent, (at a huge loss), they can afford not to charge for runs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by johnsb View Post
    I pay taxes to pay for wear and tear, and also payroll. Why should I be double taxed?? If my city can buy bicycles and smart cars for people to rent, (at a huge loss), they can afford not to charge for runs.
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnsb View Post
    I pay taxes to pay for wear and tear, and also payroll. Why should I be double taxed?? If my city can buy bicycles and smart cars for people to rent, (at a huge loss), they can afford not to charge for runs.
    Quite possibly one of the most ignorant things I have ever seen posted on here. Do you have any idea what it costs to buy an ambulance, staff it, and keep it supplied? Let alone the training and re-training of EMS personnel? Personally, I don't think $100 for a non-transport is enough.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tree68 View Post
    Were it not for the fact that most of those people will never pay the bill (or we will, via Medicaid), it might be a deterent to such BS calls...
    We won't pay, because Medicare rules do not allow billing of this nature. In fact, I'd be skeptical that this billing practice would exist too long without a Medicare suspension. MC is very detailed in how you're allowed to bill EMS calls if you bill them. Right now MC doesn't allow you to bill a patient unless you've transported them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    Quite possibly one of the most ignorant things I have ever seen posted on here. Do you have any idea what it costs to buy an ambulance, staff it, and keep it supplied? Let alone the training and re-training of EMS personnel? Personally, I don't think $100 for a non-transport is enough.
    Why is it ignorant to let the base level of a city service be paid by taxes? Any billing returns just offset that and reduce taxes, but when you you try and bill the individuals for everything you end up trying to run the service solely on billing, a feat most cannot do when only providing emergency EMS care.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RFDACM02 View Post
    Why is it ignorant to let the base level of a city service be paid by taxes? Any billing returns just offset that and reduce taxes, but when you you try and bill the individuals for everything you end up trying to run the service solely on billing, a feat most cannot do when only providing emergency EMS care.
    Actually, the third service municipally owned EMS provider that covers my village gets absolutely no tax revenues at all. The 2 villages and 3 townships put up the money for the building and original ambulances and the service was set up to run entirely on revenue after that. It has been serving for over a decade and has done fine operating that way.

    It has a full time paid director, a part-time assistanr director and 38 members that are paid on call.

    Frankly, if you want taxes to base the baselevel for ems services, including paramedic services you had better raise taxes in most cases because what you are paying now won't come close to paying for it. Further it is an unfair tax for me to pay the same in taxes to support an ambulance service as the frequent flyer who uses it once or twice a week.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    Frankly, if you want taxes to base the baselevel for ems services, including paramedic services you had better raise taxes in most cases because what you are paying now won't come close to paying for it. Further it is an unfair tax for me to pay the same in taxes to support an ambulance service as the frequent flyer who uses it once or twice a week.
    Of course there are many types of EMS service models, so what is standard in one, may not represent the best practices in another. We run an 3 ALS ambulances out of our FD and are a municipal FD that is funded by taxes, but bills all transported patients. We could not have the adequate numbers to staff these and FD apparatus without tax funding on top of the billing revenue, the Medicare caps on billing prevent emergency runs with short transport from being remotely profitable (at least in our coverage band).

    The system abuser issue is widespread, far outside city services. How do you get someone with no money or pride to pay the bill regardless of where it comes from? Telling Medics to decide whether or not someone is treated or not when they want treatment/transport is asking for lawsuits, sooner or later, someone will screw up and the judgement will be against the EMS crew. I'm not saying it's ideal now, but to indicate the statement was one of the most ignorant things posted here? Really?

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    Quote Originally Posted by RFDACM02 View Post
    Of course there are many types of EMS service models, so what is standard in one, may not represent the best practices in another. We run an 3 ALS ambulances out of our FD and are a municipal FD that is funded by taxes, but bills all transported patients. We could not have the adequate numbers to staff these and FD apparatus without tax funding on top of the billing revenue, the Medicare caps on billing prevent emergency runs with short transport from being remotely profitable (at least in our coverage band).

    The system abuser issue is widespread, far outside city services. How do you get someone with no money or pride to pay the bill regardless of where it comes from? Telling Medics to decide whether or not someone is treated or not when they want treatment/transport is asking for lawsuits, sooner or later, someone will screw up and the judgement will be against the EMS crew. I'm not saying it's ideal now, but to indicate the statement was one of the most ignorant things posted here? Really?
    Because it is ignorant, it isn't a tax at all it is a user's fee for using the service. No different than paying to get into the civic arena to watch a band perform, or paying for your kid to play baseball or hockey in the city sponsored league, you are paying for services you used above the base tax that keeps that service functioning. If it were a tax you would be getting an annual bill to pay your additional share for ALL users not just your user's fee (ambulance bill) for when you used the service.

    I intensely dislike when people don't understand the difference between user's fees and taxes. They are not the same and frankly if JohnSB wants to pay only taxes to support the EMS service with no additional billing my bet is the tax increase per household would make him intensely unpopular in his community. User's fees are the fairest way to fund things that have individual users using a service more than the average citizen does.
    Last edited by FyredUp; 04-09-2014 at 07:24 PM.
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    I would guess that the "frequent flyer", whether transported or not, is not paying a whole lot of taxes and is not going to pay any user fee.

    I think it's a separate discussion when we talk about the average citizen vs the abusers.

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    Not really, the average citizen ALWAYS pays the bill for those that can't or won't.
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnsb View Post
    I pay taxes to pay for wear and tear, and also payroll. Why should I be double taxed?? If my city can buy bicycles and smart cars for people to rent, (at a huge loss), they can afford not to charge for runs.
    Our NFP ambulance service contracts with the two townships it covers and receives a payment from both (money comes from property taxes). That essentially keeps the ambulances on the road and staffed (we staff a paramedic 24/7 and try to use a volunteer driver - not always possible). Money for actual operations comes from billing.

    Some people greatly dislike that the two townships are paying in, but without their contribution, there would be no ambulance service as we have now. The next option is the commercial service located 20 miles away. We could hope that they would keep a rig in town, but there's no guarantee.

    The squad was formed because the two volunteer fire department ambulances could no longer provide the necessary coverage.

    If they could get realistic insurance reimbursement for calls, they could live without the subsidy, but said reimbursements seem to keep dropping, and with the high deductibles now common with health insurance policies, many patients end up having to cover the ambulance bill themselves, something not all can afford.

    When the squad was first formed 10+ years ago, it was thought that they could "soft bill" - accept what the insurance paid for residents of the two townships and not bill for the rest. They found out that said practice was illegal.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    Because it is ignorant, it isn't a tax at all it is a user's fee for using the service. No different than paying to get into the civic arena to watch a band perform, or paying for your kid to play baseball or hockey in the city sponsored league, you are paying for services you used above the base tax that keeps that service functioning.
    So do you think FD's should bill everyone who has a fire? Isn't responding an ambulance in the base tax that provides the service? What else would you taxes pay for, an EMS service that doesn't respond?

    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    If it were a tax you would be getting an annual bill to pay your additional share for ALL users not just your user's fee (ambulance bill) for when you used the service.
    That's exactly what most smaller outfits did (and some still do) when they provide the service and don't bill.

    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    I intensely dislike when people don't understand the difference between user's fees and taxes.
    It appears you really intensely dislike any opinion that's contrary to yours. No doubt, most of us are pretty forward leaning and are generally convinced we're right, but some issues have so many variables to call any opposing idea ignorant is just silly. This country is in the shape it's in because regardless of what side we're on, we refuse to even remotely listen to the other.

    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    They are not the same and frankly if JohnSB wants to pay only taxes to support the EMS service with no additional billing my bet is the tax increase per household would make him intensely unpopular in his community.
    I think JohnSB specifically was noting that responding and then not transporting a pt. should not incur a bill above what your taxes pay for. No doubt in our area that would cost the taxpayers more as the people who end "abusing the system" are least likely to be able to pay a bill,but instead of their property tax bill it would come out of their state payroll taxes. Not billing for EMS transports, that is a general component of the healthcare system and part of your medical insurance would be a difficult sell.

    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    User's fees are the fairest way to fund things that have individual users using a service more than the average citizen does.
    I too like the idea of user fee based funding, but how well will that work for the FD? I don't know about your area, but I'll bet it's similar to most where those who can afford to pay the least are the ones that have the most fires? So try funding a FD using user fees. EMS is very similar in usage. You'll still be paying just out of your other pocket as Medicaid/Bamacare costs would skyrocket if all EMS services had to stay afloat using user fees from those who can afford to pay the least. Regardless of what anyone of us thinks, we'll likely never see a day when we'll decline care to those who can't afford it.
    Last edited by RFDACM02; 04-09-2014 at 10:59 PM.

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