1. #1
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    Default Should the volley depts. charge for service?

    I was wondering with the price of fighting fire going up would it be right for a volley dept. to charge for service rendered? I mean insurance would pay for it in most cases. Do you think that it should be done? Does any dept. out there do it now?

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    Unless you've got a row of money trees growing somewhere, your operation expenses have to be collected somehow. We charge annual dues that help, but not everybody pays. When we come into a situation where the owner hasn't paid his/her dues for that year we have a schedule of charges for services. The last time we actually charged and collected from someone was about six years ago, I've been seriously considering charging for MVA/ extrication work for those type of services. I spoke with a few insurance reps. and they say that it would be easier to bill the insurance company direct (considering its in effect). The fact of a potential expensive charge gives property owners an incentive to pay the little $25.00 per year. You can only sell so many pancakes...

    Good Luck, Frank

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    Weíre a not-for-profit organization, and sell subscriptions for fire service as well. As it is, that gets us about $6200 a year (though we did just double the size of our district, so that should change).

    Our rate to non-members is $500 per call. There was discussion about changing it to an hourly rate as many other area departments do. We choose $500 because most insurance companies will pay only $250--that way, people are encourages to pay $48 a year. Some of our members allow us to bill them anyway so that their insurance company will cut us a check. Itís nice, but we donít ask for it.

    And while $500 may sound like a lot, when you figure in workerís comp insurance, vehicle insurance, fuel, maintenance, foam or whatever else you use, it really isnít that much.

    We have about 90% of our residents as members. We have ALWAYS collected for runs to nonmembers. We will send three notices of payment due. After the third one, we file a suit in civil court. So far, thatís only happened twice, and both times the people sent us a check when they received their summons.

    It might sound petty, but you do what you have to do.
    Bryan Beall
    Silver City, Oklahoma USA

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    In Indiana we can charge the insurance company up to a certain amount for runs. If it is a Hazmat incident, the amounts go up considerably. Our department is funded by tax dollars also. Money from insurance companies must go towards equipment.
    Bruce Shanabarger
    Captain/Investigator
    Smith Twp. F.D.

    "Bustin' Ours To Save Yours"

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    Well, as of now, we charge for EMS runs. However, we are discussing the area o fire-rescue charges to be initiated as well. Like others, we also need to have the added income to replace vehicles, purchase equipment, and to train with.
    The other thing we talked about doing was implementing a fire district in the area to assist with finances.
    Is it wrong to charge? I don't think so! But there are those times when you have indegent people that you took in, and you know that they will get help from the hospital for their share, but yet you still have to charge the same for them as the ones that jsut hit the Lottery. Not good P.R. but it still pays the bills.

    Keep doing it for the right reasons!!!!!!!!!

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    Thumbs down

    I turn that down majorly. We do not charge a penny, and either does our ambulance. We are there to serve the people and the town, village support us financially to do so. They give us a budget, we run on it. If you watch your money right, you can operate on mostly anything I have heard some people say. We keep the heat at, unless we are there, there are no lights on, unless we are there. We also, do chicken bbq's which noramlly sell out in an hour of 500 chickens, and we have an annual fund raiser. We just all sit down, stuff thousands of envelopes one night, and they are sent out to everybody living in the fire district. This year we have reported almost ?K from that alone. If you treat the people right, you can get what you need without a lot of work, and without interfering with how we function.
    Last edited by rfcmitch; 03-29-2002 at 07:19 PM.
    Firefighter/EMT Mitch Cowen
    Hose Co. 1 1st Lieutenant
    Randolph Fire Co. Inc

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    Most homeowner's policies carry a clause to pay for fire department services, usually $500.00 or $750.00, but you have to ask for it at the time of the incident. You have to ask the property owner to have their adjuster include a payment to your organization in the total claim.

    Check with your attorney on the wording of a letter you can leave with the homeowner as you leave. The biggest problem with this is that some may feel you're trying to take advantage of them at a weak moment. But if it's in the policy, GO FOR IT.

    We were out today selling Easter flowers and will be doing it again tomorrow and for Mother's Day. I would much rather see us ask the insurance companies for what they already offer.
    Steve Dragon
    FFII, Fire Instructor II, Fire Officer I, Fire Appartus Driver Operator Certified
    Volunteers are never "off duty".
    http://www.bufd7.org

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    Default Now I have to sidagree with that one

    Mitch,
    I hate to but I do have to disagree with you on that one. Not all FDs are tax-based so many HAVE to charge. I know of depts with budgets under $10000/year. There is just no way to keep up training, amintenance, and PPE on 10 grand. If it is a strapped dept with a low budget then I say charge. If they are lucky enough to have a well-rounded budget.....Then way to go. It just depends on the dept.

    code_blue81
    Jeremy Culver
    IACOJ Bureau of EMS

    These views are my own and do not represent the views or opinions of anyambulance service that I am affiliated with.

    Help our fellow firefighters.
    www.helpingourown.com
    "Firefighters Helping Firefighters"

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    I understand that. But I mean if you out to get it just because its in the policy, that is wrong if you don't need it. We do not have a high budget, but we make it work. Not to throw a pitty party, but most of our ppe is 5 years old/older. The only people that have nice new, up-to-date equipment are interior attack.

    Also, I think and this is not from a fireman perspective, me as a human, that if you make people pay you for your services, then when you really run into problems, and need their help, they may not be supporting. But I guess it all depends on how you do it.
    Firefighter/EMT Mitch Cowen
    Hose Co. 1 1st Lieutenant
    Randolph Fire Co. Inc

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    I understand where you are coming from, Mitch. You don't want your department perceived as money-hungry.

    With the exception of selling subscriptions, we don't agressively solicit donations. Every property owner in the district has been contacted (at the very least by mail) and offered a subscription. We explain that the department depends on subscriptions to meet month-to-month expenses. We also clearly explain the costs involved if a fire occurs and they aren't a member. The letters and pamphlets we mail/hand out also encourage people to volunteer or attend Board meetings.

    We've been very successful over the last five years, and I think a good portion of that success comes down to the fact that we have made a huge effort to contact everyone in the district and explain what it is we do.
    Bryan Beall
    Silver City, Oklahoma USA

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    My department is supported by a Parish wide property tax. Additional money is raised through an annual request for donations from the community. The tax money buys equiptment which is owned by the Parish (trucks, hose, SCBA, etc.) and the donations are used to pay for items used and owned by the volunteer department(cable/satellite TV for the station, shirts/caps, dinner for meetings/partys).

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    Mitch, as a personal view from outside of the service, I can agree with you. But as Blue said there are departments with a small budget of 10k or even less. That doesn't cover alot. Our department relies on the EMS billing we get. Fortunately, if you can not pay, we do notpursue the issue. But we have to bill each person because of selective billing laws.
    As far as builling for fire-rescue calls? If we can, andif we can show why we need to, and what services we can better provide to the people, I believe we can be supported in our area. We always have.
    I guess I understand also that you can go to the well to many times if you do not have all your ducks in a row, and do not explain prior to the people as to what is happening and the benifits they will get.

    Keep doing it for the right reasons!!!!!!!!

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    Ok. Understood, and I know what you mean, but have you tried alternative ways of fundrasing? We do bingo, sure its a pain, but we have paid for a tanker refurb, a heavy rescue (used Pepsi truck), and a snorkel, all with the help of bingo money. It just gives us that much to get by. And we shell out a lot for utilities also, normally in the winter over a grand each month. I don't want to seem oppressive but I am just saying.
    Firefighter/EMT Mitch Cowen
    Hose Co. 1 1st Lieutenant
    Randolph Fire Co. Inc

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    Sure, we do fundraising from time to time. We also apply for every grant that we can find.

    Figure 30% of our calls are to give mutual aid (which we don't bill for) and then figure that 90% of our residents subscribe to service, and you are left with only a handful of instances where we send a bill. Of those few bills we send, 90% of those are paid immediately by the homeowner or the homeowner's insurance. Quite honestly, the most trouble we have had is with oil lease companies on tank battery fires.

    By the way, even if you didn't pay your bill, we're still going to provide service. We're not in the moneymaking business...but we do have to recoup our costs.

    Here's one for you: A few years ago, the only fully paid department in our county fought a nasty grass/brush fire outside their city limits. The fire was cause by a man burning his trash during a burn ban. This department/city billed the guy who started the fire $32,000+!! Sound excessive? I don't think so. The department had established a fee scale--each type of truck (engine, tanker, brush truck) had an hourly rate based on paying for fuel, maintance, insurance and wages. The fire lasted for several hours and spanned a wide area.
    Bryan Beall
    Silver City, Oklahoma USA

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    Default Hmmmmm

    Sounds like this is a touchy subject. Mongo, where are you? LOL.

    Anyway, here is my humble two pennies.

    I know some EMS agencies who were all volly and having problems with responses. Volunteers were in short supply and the few who were running could not handle the call load. What was their solution? Third party billing.

    Now before anyone jumps to conclusions, here is how it works. Pt's insurance is billed for services rendered. Agency accepts what the insurance will pay. Policy is written to include this so nothing is gained nor lost. If the patient has no insurance, nothing is charged. This allowed the agency to pay daytime staff. Now the agency has no problem with responses.

    The fire service can benefit from this as well. Bill those who have insurance. It is written into the policy already. Same with MVA's. Your insurance policy already covers this. Benefit from it.

    We need to take advantage of the money that is out there...money we are not getting. Here is an easy way to bring in needed funds for operational expenses. We are not using the money to pad our pockets, but to improve the services we provide. We bitch about lack of volunteers. I read a really good editiorial, cannot remember where, about volunteers. We put so much emphasis on fundraising, basically because it is the only means of income many of us have, that many other important aspects get lost in the shuffle. If we can take advantage of funding such as this, and take the time we could save by fundraising to train and educate, maybe volunteers would increase. We sacrifice enough time from families without having the added burden of having bingo every week or selling hotdogs every week. There are many other issues to think of other than being greedy.

    If you make the public aware of the facts of billing for services, I am sure that the response will be good. The money has already come out of their pockets when the premium was paid...

    There it is, for what it's worth.
    Begin with the end in mind.

    Be safe out there!!

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    Without proper funding, a fire department will soon cease to exsist. There will be no ppe, no engines, no training. A fire department has to have money to operate on. If they run EMS, they need to bill to pay for malpractice insurance or each responder provide his own. Sometimes there is no other way to get funding than to charge for services rendered. We have not billed for services yet, except in hazardous material incidents.
    We have to keep our departments up to date with equipment and training, if we are to meet the needs and expectations of the people who are our customers. Most people understand that departments cannot operate underfunded. They realize that the life that may be lost due to not having a good EMS or fire department may be theirs or a member of their family.

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    We don't charge for anything here. We run fire and EMS (BLS amnulance) services to our town (slightly more than 3000) and our ambulance also covers one of our neighboring towns (about 1200 people, I think). We do a couple of fund raisers every year, a chicken BBQ on father's day, and the Fisherman's Breakfast, which is coming up soon. The rest of our money comes out of the tax base. We usually break about even on the breakfast, it's more for PR than anything else. We make a couple thousand on the BBQ I think.

    People are always happy to hear we're a free ambulance service when they get to the hospital.

    Andy

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    My fire department is tax-based and does not charge for anything.

    My Technical Rescue Squad is not tax-based and does charge for the technical rescue services. We have a fee scale and we bill insurance companies through a billing service. We do not pursue individuals.

    The fees are based on equipment replacement, not on our time. When you look at what the equipment for these operations cost, we barely break even.

    Our only funding comes from some money the county FD gives us plus donations and fundraising.

    Our members still pay for much of their own uniforms and equipment - we are able to cover the wildland gear and helmets we wear for rescue ops, and protective footwear for those off probation - but that's about it.

    We even have to pay for most of our training costs that are not in-house. While I hate the idea of having to charge anyone for anything - it's a matter of survival when you aren't tax-based.

    For those of you not from NC - technical rescue is still done in many places by specialized rescue squads, not the FD's. This is not everywhere in NC - but way back when the FD's didn't have the time, money, manpower or desire to do this stuff - so the squads formed and now have a working system with minimal cost - problem is the taxpayers don't want to pay for fire and rescue services.
    Susan Lounsbury
    Winston-Salem Rescue Squad
    Griffith Volunteer FD

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