1. #1
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    Question Reimbursement rates??

    Due to overwhelming lack of response, I've moved this from the Legal section.

    If your dept is eligible to be reimbursed for a call, what rate do you charge for men and equipment?

    Example; you respond to a brush fire that is caused by someone burning without a permit. It takes 2 pieces of apparatus and 10 FF's 4 hours to extinguish and overhaul. Judge slaps the offender with a fine and orders "restitution". What rate are you allowed to bill for your apparatus and what rate are you allowed to bill for your FF's? Is there a formula or ceiling set by your State or County or local government?

    Looking for input as State of Maine is considering revising some very old rate tables.

    Thanks
    Remember, it IS as bad as you think and they ARE out to get you!

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    we do 3rd party billing as a cost recovery program. Granted, this is what we charge, not what the insurance company reimburses us for.
    Engine-$500/hr
    Truck-$600/hr
    Squad-$400/hr

    Those prices are just for the equipment. If extrication is involved, we can recover the cost of the tools ($250/tool/use), protective equipment (tarps, foam, scba), as well as expendables.

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    We are able to charge up to $125 per hour for Engine,Tanker, Brush Truck
    and up to $35 per hour for each firefighter. We are also allowed to charge for any supplies used at the scene such as foam, oil dry, EMS supplies, etc. We charge for equipment and manpower actually used on scene, not just for showing up and standing by.
    We only charge for responding to out of district calls or for calls for involving people who do not reside in our district. This does not include mutual aid calls.

    These charges are set by State Law in Illinois
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    Jim
    Would this mean if something like the Trolley museum had a brush/structure fire we would get charged for you to fight it?

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    Question

    I have never heard of this! You are charging people for your services? Since when do we charge people for our services as firefighters? Is'nt that why there is local taxes, paid deparments and vollie departments? Please explain this to me I am very confused by this!

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    Most insurance companies are more than willing to pay up to $500/incident on a standard homeowners policy-not subject to a deductible. Our dept. bills for EMS but not fire or rescue. Our neighboring depts. charge or fire/rescue and EMS. SAR is another dilema. With operational costs skyrocketing and manpower cuts everywhere perhaps this is the next wave? I feel that nuisance alarms -after 3/week same location should get charged-but what? For doing our job? Then again two or three runs to the same location in the middle of the night. Then lets not forget about vandalism/pulling pull stations. Bring the offenders back to quatrers and give them a mop and bucket-don't forget the wax. Perhaps the duty crews cars and trucks and some gas.

    Do you bill both parties on Vehicle X? The party at fault or the insurance companies. I wonder if fire run fees will one day be like Medicare reimbursement?
    Last edited by ShaversFork; 11-11-2003 at 12:29 AM.
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    I don't think that municipal departments should charge for ANY type of response... The citizens pay taxes for a fire department. They shouldn't get hit twice for the same service.

    However, in my hometown, the fire department provides extrication service for the entire county and fire suppression response for areas up to five miles beyond the city limits. The county refuses to pay for these services. I totally support the idea of that FD billing the county for every time they leave the city limits. Of course, it hasn't come to that -- yet.

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    Originally posted by firefiftyfive
    Isn't that why there is local taxes, paid deparments and vollie departments? Please explain this to me I am very confused by this!
    Traditionally, no one has ever called us when they have done something right! They call when something has gone wrong. My area of the country has a mix of volunteer departments and some full time departments. Aside from the occasional insurance reimbursement, no one is really into billing, yet.

    My question is aimed specifically at someone who has done something wrong - so wrong that a court has convicted him of a crime. Maybe it's arson, maybe it's burning without a permit, maybe it's failing to report a dangerous fire, whatever. A court has said his actions were completely outside the norm.

    In that case, what are you allowed to bill? 80FIRE said
    We are able to charge up to $125 per hour for Engine,Tanker, Brush Truck and up to $35 per hour for each firefighter. We are also allowed to charge for any supplies used at the scene such as foam, oil dry, EMS supplies, etc. We charge for equipment and manpower actually used on scene, not just for showing up and standing by
    That's the type of information I'm looking for. Thanks for the responses to date.
    Remember, it IS as bad as you think and they ARE out to get you!

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    Just for the record, we receive no tax support. Any income is either raised or given through our yearly membership. Members receive no bill. We cover a large interstate with tons of mva's involving people from out of city/state, so this is primarily who we bill. Considering we use foam extensively, the costs involved need to be recovered, our town fathers approved it, so we feel its a good idea.

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    firefiftyfive asked
    I have never heard of this! You are charging people for your services? Since when do we charge people for our services as firefighters? Is'nt that why there is local taxes, paid deparments and vollie departments? Please explain this to me I am very confused by this!
    This is called restitution for criminal acts, i.e. DUI responses, responses to meth or other illegal drug labs, negligent behavior as in hazardous materials handling.
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    Originally posted by firefiftyfive
    I have never heard of this! You are charging people for your services? Since when do we charge people for our services as firefighters? Is'nt that why there is local taxes, paid deparments and vollie departments? Please explain this to me I am very confused by this!
    Firefiftyfive...

    You missed the key words in Jim917's post

    Example: you respond to a brush fire that is caused by someone burning without a permit.
    The person responsible for the incident did not get the proper permit. They caused an incident that costs the Department and the taxpayer money for something that could have been avoided in the first place, ie., getting the permit, reading the guidelines, following procedures, etc. They should pay for the apparatus, manpower, and specialized equipment costs. Think of it as a "fine" for "stupidity".

    In Masachusetts, hazmat incidents are billed to the parties that caused the incident in the first place. They in turn submit the bill to their insurance company.

    Many communities have provisions to charge for false alarms above a certain number. Many places do not maintain their alarm systems properly, and since it costs $$$ everytime the rigs go out the door,it is only right that those who want "alarm babysitting" services pay for them.

    In a world where the FD is always being asked to do more with less, this is a way to recoup some of our expenses.
    Last edited by CaptainGonzo; 11-12-2003 at 09:13 AM.
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    One great explanation I've heard:

    Taxes pay for the manpower & equipment to be available.

    Fees reimburse fuel, supplies, and maintenance when it's used.

    For things like Haz-Mat, it's pretty straight forward. State taxes provided the trailer & initial load of equipment and disposables for the unit at our station. When they're used, fees pay to replace them. (We don't bill directly -- State DEP takes care of that, and more typically they have Clean Harbors replace our disposables and put it on the bill Clean Harbors sends the responsible party)

    We've also billed at least once under Gonzo's Stupidity Tax theory, when called to the same pile of pallets two days in row. If they where illegal to burn yesterday, why'd ya think it was legal today?

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    Originally posted by Dalmatian90
    We've also billed at least once under Gonzo's Stupidity Tax theory, when called to the same pile of pallets two days in row. If they where illegal to burn yesterday, why'd ya think it was legal today?
    I wonder if I could cite "Stupidity Tax Theory" to the legislative committee looking at rates?

    Gotta love it.
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    New Hampshire's version of the Stupidity Tax:

    New Search and Rescue Rules Could Be Costly for Reckless Hikers
    December 29, 1999

    CONCORD, N.H. -- Hikers who aren't prepared for the extremes of New Hampshire's terrain and weather may want to reevaluate their plans for outdoor adventures.

    The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department announced today that hikers who recklessly cause themselves to become lost or injured -- resulting in costly and dangerous rescues -- may be billed for those rescue services. The new protocol has an educational element that includes signs and handouts advising hikers to be prepared when hiking in the backcountry, with the objective of reducing the number of rescues.

    "Millions of people come to New Hampshire because it's a fantastic and beautiful place to hike," said Wayne E. Vetter, the Fish and Game Department's executive director. "Unfortunately, a small number of those hikers aren't prepared for the terrain or the weather and lack equipment or experience they need to hike safely. We hope we seldom have to take steps to bill people for search and rescues. But when those rescues are initiated because of someone's careless or reckless behavior, we feel it"s our responsibility to recover some of those costs."

    Under the new protocol, which is supported by the Fish and Game Commission, the Department would review each search and rescue mission and determine whether a bill should be sent to those involved. Hikers who may be billed include those who are poorly equipped for terrain or weather and/or lack reasonable skills or stamina to handle the hike without getting lost or injured.

    The many dedicated and highly trained volunteers from diverse agencies and organizations are an integral part of New Hampshire's search and rescue missions. As the lead agency in charge of such missions, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, handles roughly 150 to 200 search and rescues each year. Of those, only a small number are initiated because of the actions of reckless hikers, according to Col. Ronald Alie, chief of Fish and Game's Law Enforcement Division.

    "Those small number of reckless hikers can present some very difficult, dangerous and expensive search and rescue missions," Alie said. "Those are the hikers who'll be billed for rescues. Furthermore, we hope that the prospects of getting a bill will itself act as a deterrent to hikers who may otherwise make incorrect and uneducated decisions."

    Searches and rescues in New Hampshire are funded mainly by a $1 fee on off-highway recreational vehicles and boat registrations.

    Money collected from reckless hikers will support training and purchases of equipment for volunteers of search and rescue organizations who help with rescue missions. Proper equipment for a winter hike or rescue mission costs as much as $4,000 per person, Alie said.

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    Default reimbursement rates

    Your reimbursement rates are often set by an ordinance. Like a flat fee of $250 or $750 per response.

    When we outsourced our biling to Revenue Rescue (www.revenue-rescue.com), they gave us some recommended fee schedules as well that were helpful to the city comissioners when it came to updating our fee schedule to more accurately cause it to reflect industry norms.

    Although we do get a little bit of "tax dollars", it comes no where close to meeting our operating costs, and so the billing helps us to recoup expenditures not supported by tax dollars.

    Additionally, for every dollar in tax money that we get, the ISO rating that we give homeowners saves them five to ten dollars on their homeowners' insurance.

    Also, the tax money accounts for services to residents, and what generally is to be expected for a municipality of just over 10,000, and doesn't account for the expenditures that occur on the stretch of highway that we cover. And it is mostly those non-resident motorists who we bill, and who most of our billing dollars come from.

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    Quote Originally Posted by firefiftyfive
    I have never heard of this! You are charging people for your services? Since when do we charge people for our services as firefighters? Is'nt that why there is local taxes, paid deparments and vollie departments? Please explain this to me I am very confused by this!

    Not a new issue/discussion. Counterpoint is that, as a group, taxpayer $ go to have necessary equipment/resources readily available if needed in the community. But you individually do not have a franchise to use the services or resources of the community (fire dept) at no cost. You never burn your house down, you pay no user fees. You burn your property, the fire dept comes out to save your hide/wealth, you pay for the service provided. Sounds logical.

    Your tax $ pay to build the community hall but when you hold your party in the ballroom you have to pay rent for the use of the room and kitchen. You never use this community resource you are charged no user fees. Not many communities/depts in seem to be using this model/plan however (or not yet).

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