1. #1
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    Angry Charging for fire calls

    Dover fire chief feels charging for fires, accident calls is a way to raise revenue
    By HIROKO SATO

    Democrat Staff Writer

    DOVER — Calling 911 for fires and accidents could soon cost residents big bucks if the City Council approves a proposed amendment requiring people to pay for emergency services.

    At their workshop scheduled for Wednesday night, city councilors are expected to review a drafted regulation that would allow the local Fire Department to collect fees for extensive emergency services. For example, drivers trapped inside of a wrecked vehicle could face an up to a $1,000 bill for the rescue, and if a big fire forces off-duty firefighters to respond, someone would be asked to pay up to $500.

    If the proposal passes, Dover will become the first community in New Hampshire to have such a regulation, following in the footsteps of many Maine and Massachusetts communities with similar ordinances, according to Fire Chief Perry Plummer. Plummer, who proposed the regulation, is hoping that it would stream new revenues into the city to hire more firefighters and open a North End station to cover the growing community.

    While fire suppression and rescue have been traditionally considered free services funded through taxes, charging fees for such services is a "legitimate and reasonable way to help fund increased needs," according to a note prepared by the administration attached to the proposal for the City Council.

    Under the proposed regulation, those who get help from firefighters will pay from $150 to over $1,000 depending on the extent of manpower required to render the service.

    For instance, the Fire Department would normally charge $500 for removing someone from a vehicle, but would ask for $1,000 for a larger-scale extrication operation. A big accident that ties up fire resources for extensive hours would cost a minimum of $1,000.

    For more limited service — such as clean up of fluid leaked from a vehicle or removal of a battery — a driver may be billed $300. The department would not charge for emergency response when it requires only basic service.

    There may also be fees for extinguishing a structure fire if it forces the Fire Department to call in off-duty personnel. As long as on-duty firefighters can handle a fire themselves, there would be no charges.

    The department would charge from $300 up to $500 for a house fire, $300-$1,000 for business and commercial structure fires and commercial mobile equipment. A car fire would cost $150 regardless of availability of firefighters.

    All other fires requiring a shift recall would cost from $300 to $1,000.

    This proposed regulation would add to an existing ordinance requiring those criminally charged for an auto accident to reimburse the city for the cost of emergency personnel to deal with the incident. Under state law, the city has recovered money spent responding to driving while intoxicated accidents and other criminal incidents.

    Plummer said Monday the proposed ordinance should not prevent people from calling for help because they can’t be charged for emergency services in the early stages.

    Plummer said the city uses taxpayers’ money to make fire personnel available to respond to situations just as it provides a water main system ready to be used for water distribution. Residents must pay for the water they actually consumed, and those who call 911 should also pay for fire services they actually receive, Plummer said. For example, conscientious businesses who put proper fire prevention measures in place would not have to pay for fires caused by others, he said.

    In addition, insurance companies would pick up the tab for such fees, and the ordinance would cause no negative effects to residents, according to Plummer and City Manager Paul Beecher.

    "It’s worth taking a look at it," Beecher said Monday, adding that Plummer has done extensive research on similar ordinances across the country.

    In fact, Biddeford and Auburn, Maine, have already implemented such fees, Plummer said.

    Carl Peterson, assistant director of the public fire protection division at the National Fire Protection Association in Quincy, Mass., said Monday he was not aware of any communities with such regulations.

    Peterson said there are municipalities that charge for responding to fire alarm activations and the cleanup of hazardous materials.

    He said, however, he believed the proposed ordinance in Dover appears to have incentives for people to call for help early. He also said he understands it costs fire departments to call in off-duty firefighters.

    The ordinance indeed may be a good idea, according to Patrick Callahan, a government consultant who works for the Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Iowa. Callahan, who has written a report titled "Assessing Fees for Fire and Emergency Services" along with George Oster of the Fire Service Institute at the Iowa State University Extension to Communities in 1999, said small Iowa towns with volunteer firefighters began to adopt the system six to eight years ago to help purchase equipment.

    Callahan said his knowledge on the subject is limited to the Hawkeye State, but all insurance companies but one providing coverage in those municipalities have paid for fees imposed by the fire departments.

    But municipalities with such ordinances are still "very, very rare" at least in Iowa, he said.

    Plummer said he estimates the fees would generate about $100,000 annually for the city — only a fraction of the cost of off-duty personnel needed to deal with large incidents, he said.

    However, not everyone is sold on the idea to charge residents for fire services.

    "I don’t think I will vote in favor of something like this," said Councilor Robert Keays.

    Keays said Monday fire services are basic and should be provided free. He said he did not understand why taxpayers, who fund the salary of firefighters, would have to pay additional money to get service.

    From garbage bags to playing in city-owned ballfields, residents pay a lot on top of property taxes, he said. "I don’t know where or when they quit" taxing, he said.

    Mayor Scott Myers said Monday he wanted to get more information about the proposed ordinance from Plummer at the Wednesday workshop to understand its impact on residents.

    The Fire Department and the city administration are also proposing another amendment to require those who building large facilities in the city to design them to help radio communications in case of an emergency. Buildings subject to the ordinance would be those larger than 50,000 square feet.

    The City Council workshop will start at 7 p.m. at City Hall.


    http://www4.fosters.com/news2004/Feb...s/do_0203d.asp
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    We cover city and county. For City calls there is no charge ( part of the taxes ) but for county fires there is a water bill. We keep track of how many tankers full of water get dumped at the scene and the city water Dept will bill for the water used.
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    FDNY collect fees for EMS patient care...
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    We don't charge for actual fires or accidental alarms. We do however charge for repetitive alarms.

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    Thumbs down Live free or die? yeah right---Live costly and freeze ur a** off!

    This is pure crap!

    In addition, insurance companies would pick up the tab for such fees, and the ordinance would cause no negative effects to residents, according to Plummer and City Manager Paul Beecher.
    Not everyone has insurance,those that dont usally cant afford it. Heck in NH you dont have to insure your car.

    Plummer said Monday the proposed ordinance should not prevent people from calling for help because they can’t be charged for emergency services in the early stages.
    This WILL happen.

    Plummer said the city uses taxpayers’ money to make fire personnel available to respond to situations just as it provides a water main system ready to be used for water distribution.
    Then what the duck are you chargeing people for??????

    For more limited service — such as clean up of fluid leaked from a vehicle or removal of a battery — a driver may be billed $300.
    This is (no pun)highway robbery! $300 for fluid clean up----a bag of speedy dry cost what,$20?

    Keays said Monday fire services are basic and should be provided free. He said he did not understand why taxpayers, who fund the salary of firefighters, would have to pay additional money to get service.
    BINGO-----Fire departments should be non profit agencys! This is a basic fire service tradition from the days of friendly societys to 2004---the job is helping people when they need us most and doing it with out fanfair or sticking it to them! This is clear case of double dipping from the tax payers and the people they serve.

    The ordinance indeed may be a good idea, according to Patrick Callahan, a government consultant
    Welll duhhhh! He is hired by the mayor or what ever they have there and he certainly wont say he cant see the emporers cloths!

    From garbage bags to playing in city-owned ballfields, residents pay a lot on top of property taxes, he said. "I don’t know where or when they quit" taxing, he said.
    If you live in Dover-----re-elect this guy!


    Just out of curiosity I wonder what the Fire Chief and Mayor make up there anyway.
    I dont suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.

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    Then what the duck are you chargeing people for??????

    So, if you pay your electric bill, you shouldn't be charged to replace a pole you hit with your car?

    I have no problem with areas that adopt the philosophy that taxes pay for the services to be available, you pay the expenses when you need them.
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    Question Mixed Bag............

    This is one of life's gray areas. I feel very strongly that anyone with an emergency of any kind should get the closest available help immediately. Period. I had my comments on the Niles, OH. thing. But, a REASONABLE fee to recover actual costs is not something that I am against. For instance, we are looking at billing the insurance carrier of the person at fault in auto accidents, for services that we provide, such as fluid cleanup, extrication, Etc. Our current extracation tool arsenal is valued at over 40,000.00 and we need to maintain and upgrade these tools somehow. Just a thought. Stay Safe....
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    Hwoods is right---it is a gray area. But I just dont see voters paying for something they should get free.

    Dal, the way I see it,if my car catches fire,I want a trepasser removed,pothole fixed and garbage taken away and I pay taxes and those taxes fund the fire department,police,dpw,trash etc----I should not have to pay the fire department,police,dpw,trash again for doing there job in the way of "service fees".

    In Dovers case I think it is a vailed attempt at double dipping. Im not sure if you have been to Dover---its a basic blue collar town. But the town has a few areas (same as anytown usa)where the imposeing of fees would be a financial hardship to idviduals and small business's,especially in a state that does not require auto/renter/home insurance.

    There is a flip side of the coin though,if it was a large commecial disaster like a plant explosion,tanker rollover/fire,large haz mat and the department was forced to expend resouces well over what would be "normal" then I think REASONABLE fees would apply. The problem is you get into a snag in what do you define as "normal".

    I do relent the day that when we are packing up after a small kitchen fire and I am sitting on the front bumper makeing out a bill to john q homeowner----that will be the proof in the pudding the fire service and local goverment have truly bottomed out.
    I dont suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.

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    Talking

    Its one thing for the dept to bill the insurance company, but if the homeowner thinks that they are going to have to foot the bill, then many of them would try to extinguish the fire themselves before call us, resulting in many fires getting out of hand. In my opinion, service to the public should be free.

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    The insurance company is only paying a liability of the insured.

    There is no such thing as, "We only bill the insurance company" unless you like little things like going to jail for fraud. You've got to bill everyone -- you might just write off un-insured debts sooner.

    What is covered by taxes before billing kicks in is certainly up to the local community to decide.

    Think of this for a basic car v. telephone pole at zero-dark thirty on a curve on a state highway:

    Fire & Extrication: Free
    Ambulance: $250
    Towing Bill: $100
    1 Week of Storage at garage: $150
    Cost of Power, Phone, and Cable companies to fix the pole & wires and a State Trooper to direct traffic around them: About $2,000
    Cost of the hospital visit: $2,000+ for anything more than a "You're fine, get out of here" visit.
    Citation for failure to travel in an established lane: $250
    Annual increase in insurance due to above citation: $1000

    Things to hope you don't need or aren't:
    Helicopter Med-evac: $3,000
    Being upside down another $3,000 on your car loan...
    You didn't hit a pole with a transformer, or a pole that had an exceptionally lot of stuff going on. ($4,000 and up)
    One of the cooper-to-fiber junctions for the Phone Company ($15,000 and up)
    Several operations, a 2 week's stay at a Level 1 trauma center, and a month's rehab: What, $100,000 and up?

    Let's face it, if you're not charging, you're about the only ones who don't have their hands in someone's pocket other than the on-lookers.

    Like Hwood's says, don't gouge, but you can probably come up with a fairly reasonable rate
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    Do I get a choice? Instead of paying the taxes I can pay the service IF I need it? What a great deal! Go ahead, charge me an arm and a leg when I need the service, but don't take any of my tax money until then. More people don't use the service than do.

    How's that for a scary flip side?

    I don't pay for groceries until I use them. I don't pay for movies until I go see them. I don't pay for automobile fuel until I use it.

    Come up with a list of standard services and include them as part of what your taxes pay for. Then come up with reasonable fees for extra services. Good luck though, I always thought we were there to help people when were called.

    Good discussion though.
    Last edited by Bones42; 02-06-2004 at 04:31 PM.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Our Fire Co. doesn't charge for any calls but if there is false alarms at a same place more than 5 times on one month they have to pay a fine.But the local Rescue Squad I think charges $250 a call.
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    Think of it this way Bones:

    Your taxes pay to so your neighbor's stupidity burning down his house doesn't take your's with it.

    I'm not hard-core into charging people for fire services, but I think it's a viable way to recoup some expenses.

    Taxes is one of society's ways to distribute costs either uniformly or to accomplish things individual's typically can't afford.

    Street lighting, for instance, is one thing you may have a tax district for. Everyone in the district benefits, and so you're not relying on voluntary donations you tax to provide it.

    Snow plowing is similiar -- you tax, because everyone on the street benefits each time it goes by.

    Public Schools is something that is costly for every family to afford (running about $8,000 a kid in my town right now), and there was a decision a couple centuries back that it was a good public purpose to pay for basic education.

    Fire protection I reckon is somewhere in between. If you take the inventory of equipment, and divide it among the number of structure fires, your cost per incident could be, well, huge.

    Take our Ladder truck -- divide the number of Structure fire's it'll see in it's lifetime by it's cost, you come up with $3,000 per incident. Start adding in the other Engines, and the Hose Tender, and all the small equipment you might need, and PPE, and amortized training costs, etc you can write up a bill real fast for $12,000 I'd reckon -- and that's whether we actually use everything that responds or not.

    Heard before the saying in relation to career firefighters, you pay the firefighters not for what they do on a shift, but for what they *might* do on a shift. Same thing goes for equipment. You get a fire racing in the wood truss attic of our very large, 4 story assisted living center in town, the day that Ladder knocks down the fire and keeps it from making the International news for the multiple fatalities may be the one day in it's 30 year life it will have bought & paid for itself.

    But I'm not sure we'd want to go charging everyone with a fire $12,000 for us to show up. So the community as a whole through taxes picks up the burden for it being available. In denser communities that becomes even more important because YOUR fire may be MY problem real quick.

    So maybe you can't drive the whole capital cost down onto individuals. But I don't see a problem with some more-or-less direct expenses being charged -- fuel, some fudge factor for wear & tear on equipment & gear, foam. You collect $5, $10k extra a year in a department my size, that's a fundraiser. You have a career department and manage to net $50k a year, that's a firefighter's job.
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    Every year where I live, city council attempts to increase property taxes in order to meet the needs of the people. The citizens want everything for nothing. They complain about the lack of police officers, firefighters and paramedics but don't want to pay more for it. There are a lot of times that the emergency services are being abused by corporations. Why would a building manager/operator pay to have his alarm system fixed when the fire department will come and reset it for him 5 or 6 times a night. The police have long ago started billing for repeat alarms to residences. As a result, the alarm monotoring companies just call the fire department. I have responded to numerous alarms at residences which turn out to be intrusion alarms as oppposed to fire alarms. Thankfully we have yet to interupt a burglar. With fluid cleanup at a motor vehicle accident, the tow trucks used to clean it up but they stopped because the fire department will do it for free. In addition to MVA's we also have to go to hazardous materials responses where some dumb a#$ has dumped used motor oil down the storm sewer. More and more calls are service calls as opposed to emergency calls. In these instances I am all for billing them. I like to call it stupid tax! If the emergency services were not tied up with useless calls like these we would be able to handle the real emergencies a little better with the manpower at hand.
    Sometimes, in order to make an operation idiot proof, you must remove the idiot!

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    Lets add another wrinkle, did the person in the mva
    "order,consent to or purchase" your big red truck
    to arrive at their fender bender? or will you just
    respond to all mva's so there are billable calls?
    I can see hazmat and industrial calls "I ruined at set of
    turnouts at a plywood mill in the gluing machine getting
    your employee out alive will you pay for them?" I cant see
    "Well ma'm you wrecked in my podunk town and you owe me
    $500.00 cause the boys had to show up in the big red truck,
    yes ma'm I know were only here 5 min ,show me the money"

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    Default just a question

    if they charged... how would the dispatch center answer the phones? 911.. what is your emergency? and will this go on your mastercard, visa, or american express? or would you like to use our easy monthly installment plan?

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    BIGTIME SOAPBOX MODE ACTIVATION

    First of all, I am a resident of the City of Dover NH.
    The WHOLE story has not been told hence the fact a public hearing to learn the FACTS is scheduled.

    It has been common place in NH for people who cause an emergency to be billed for the mitigation of it. Examples are the lost hikers or ill-equppied or ill-trained hikers or climbers being charged for their rescue when they become trapped,lost,or injured do to stupidity, etc.

    QUOTE: Dover fire chief feels charging for fires, accident calls is A WAY to raise revenue.

    RIGHT, A WAY that is being investigated.

    QUOTE: DOVER — Calling 911 for fires and accidents could soon cost residents big bucks if the City Council approves a proposed amendment requiring people to pay for emergency services.

    I feel this is an inflammatory opening that can not help but get readers up in arms. Typical tactics for our local paper that frequently exaggerates or misinforms. We, as taxpayers, already PAY for our services. True, but things like charging for nuisance calls(multiple alarms a day or week do to lack of system maintenance,etc.) in my opinion is not wrong.

    QUOTE:At their workshop scheduled for Wednesday night, city councilors are expected to review a drafted regulation that would allow the local Fire Department to collect fees for extensive emergency services.

    My point again is that this issue has NOT been given fair review and the premature jumping to arms is sad. There is time for denial of the plan, modification and adaption/change.

    QUOTE:If the proposal passes, Dover will become the first community in New Hampshire to have such a regulation, following in the footsteps of many Maine and Massachusetts communities with similar ordinances, according to Fire Chief Perry Plummer.

    This is not new by any means. I recall that the City of Portsmouth bills for frequent/malicious/malfunctioning false alarms. Jesse if you would look YOUR state is listed so you can get off your high horse.

    QUOTES: This proposed regulation would add to an existing ordinance requiring those criminally charged for an auto accident to reimburse the city for the cost of emergency personnel to deal with the incident. Under state law, the city has recovered money spent responding to driving while intoxicated accidents and other criminal incidents.
    AND
    Peterson said there are municipalities that charge for responding to fire alarm activations and the cleanup of hazardous materials.

    THis is the what I meant concerning the fact billing for services provided for stupidity, negligence, malicious acts, etc.I would like to think that when we see the facts come out that this is the intent. Not a double dipping scenario.

    QUOTE:Mayor Scott Myers said Monday he wanted to get more information about the proposed ordinance from Plummer at the Wednesday workshop to understand its impact on residents.

    Someone willing to listen prior to firing off before the facts are known. Thank god.

    quote:
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    From garbage bags to playing in city-owned ballfields, residents pay a lot on top of property taxes, he said. "I don’t know where or when they quit" taxing, he said.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    If you live in Dover-----re-elect this guy!

    Wow, Jesse, maybe I will, maybe I won't.


    QUOTE:
    BINGO-----Fire departments should be non profit agencys! This is a basic fire service tradition from the days of friendly societys to 2004---the job is helping people when they need us most and doing it with out fanfair or sticking it to them! This is clear case of double dipping from the tax payers and the people they serve.


    Again Jesse, many fire departments bill for EMS. Where is your anger over this?

    QUOTE:Plummer said the city uses taxpayers’ money to make fire personnel available to respond to situations just as it provides a water main system ready to be used for water distribution.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    REPLY:Then what the duck are you chargeing people for??????

    People have a home meter to charge them for the water they use for drinking and showering so why not charge for the exponentially higher quantities of water used to quell a blaze?


    QUOTE:quote:
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    For more limited service — such as clean up of fluid leaked from a vehicle or removal of a battery — a driver may be billed $300.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    This is (no pun)highway robbery! $300 for fluid clean up----a bag of speedy dry cost what,$20?


    OK< Jesse, the speedy dry is $20. Wanna guess how much they charge to DISPOSE of the speedy dry and its absorbed contents?


    QUOTE:quote:
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    In addition, insurance companies would pick up the tab for such fees, and the ordinance would cause no negative effects to residents, according to Plummer and City Manager Paul Beecher.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Not everyone has insurance,those that dont usally cant afford it. Heck in NH you dont have to insure your car.
    AND
    This is pure crap!


    You may want to look into the NH state statute on insuring your vehicle before you make a blanket statement. So what do you think insurance companies do then? We have had insurance companies for for the loss of equipment at a fire by the building/business insurance carrier so wouldn't they pay for this?



    Overall I think the facts here are this:

    The city of Dover NH has understaffed fire/EMS and police agencies much like most of the USA.

    The fire chief is looking for an alternative way to fund things like:

    * the OT budget required because of the need to cover the city when the short staffed department is running more then two or three smaller calls or one big one,

    *the desperately needed sub Station on Upper Sixth Street in a blossoming industrial area that has a huge property value(including a very large national insurance companies very large complex) :P
    and a long response time for emergency units from either station

    * the fact that as Dalmation said, things need to be replaced or restocked, maintained,etc. that may exceed the scant amount budgeted do to cost budget trimming demands by the city.


    Just as a hypothetical conversation item consider this:
    An out of state (most likely from Quebec...)driver passing thru the city on the highway towing his snowmobiles in his spiffy trailer behind his $50,000 SUV is driving exceptionally fast in a storm on snow and ice covered roads so he can get to the trails in Pittsburg a half hour faster loses control and wipes out becoming trapped upside down over the embankment and splooshes into the Cocheco River.This requires the use of the entire onduty shift using the Squad, 2 engines, and both Medic busses, and the boat to get Pierre and Buffy Snodgrass out of their crumpled Chevy Sub-division. An hour and a half transpired and a during that time dozens of absorbent pads are used in the river to soak up the lifeblood from the "Heartbeat of America", three ice rescue suits are ruined due to exposure to gas and oil, and 4 life safety ropes used to secure the car and lift the stokes are contaminated, not to mention they have tied up resources I pay taxes to have available for ME. As the Snodgrasses don't live in Dover the costs incurred by their negligent actions are eaten by the Dover taxpayers including ME and MY WIFE. If this plan is in effect a bill is sent to the Snodgrasses insurance carrier and the stuff is replaced with no additional money needed from the tax funds.

    Let us see the facts behind Perry's idea and let the city, the chief, and US the taxpayers decide AFTER looking at the proposal....please!?!?
    Proud to be an American, Union Firefighter!

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    Jay...

    [size=large]eloquently stated!
    [/size]

    I agree with you 1000%!
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    Talking Just to poke the lion more...........

    Jesse if you would look YOUR state is listed so you can get off your high horse.
    Ummmm I dont recall getting on any horse.....let alone a high one. I did run and Iron one today though.

    Someone willing to listen prior to firing off before the facts are known. Thank god.
    If that was directed at me----this was the only source I had so I am no more guilty or innocent than anyone else here.

    Again Jesse, many fire departments bill for EMS. Where is your anger over this?
    DFD runs ems and they dont bill. My department runs ems we dont charge. MFD,BFD run ems they dont charge.....I can go on with other examples if you want.

    People have a home meter to charge them for the water they use for drinking and showering so why not charge for the exponentially higher quantities of water used to quell a blaze?
    I refer to-------Fire departments should be non profit agencys! This is a basic fire service tradition from the days of friendly societys to 2004---the job is helping people when they need us most and doing it with out fanfair or sticking it to them!


    OK< Jesse, the speedy dry is $20. Wanna guess how much they charge to DISPOSE of the speedy dry and its absorbed contents?
    We spread it,tow company sweeps and takes its away---not our problem.

    You may want to look into the NH state statute on insuring your vehicle before you make a blanket statement
    You own a car in NH you dont have to insure it! I dont see how that it is a blanket statment.......its a fact! You also dont have to have to wear a motorcycle helmet----I never said both were smart......just facts.

    Let us see the facts behind Perry's idea and let the city, the chief, and US the taxpayers decide AFTER looking at the proposal....please!?!?
    Ummm I wasnt stopping ya there jay.
    I dont suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.

  20. #20
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    We have just begun to charge,I believe we started last year. We dont charge for normal emergency situations, we do for nuesence calls(repeatedly going to AFA's caused by stupidy and such), and calls to the Interstate. This got a lot of local people worked up because they are already paying taxes, why pay more if you get into a wreck on the highway in their town? Well if a person from our town has something happen to them on the highway they dont really pay anything. We decided to charge due to going out on the interstate 20 times every time we had a snow storm for SUV roll overs without injury, caused by excessive speed+no ability to drive. It has worked out really well and we have heard nothing from locals since it's inception.
    This statements made above do not represent the agency i belong to in any shape or form. So if i say something stupid its just me.

  21. #21
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    As a side note, we used to charge a penalty fee for multiple alarms in a month that were due to lack of maintenance. Homeowners/businesses simply turned their alarm systems off instead of getting fined.

    Dal, just throwing another way of looking at it out there. Personally don't have a problem with charging reasonable fees for extraordinary situations.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

  22. #22
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    The way I see it, there is nothing wrong charging for calls that require specialized equipment and personnel ie auto extrication and haz-mat situations. Currently we do not charge extra for anything but we have been considering the idea for a while now and hope to eventually implement some form of it. Right now we collect fire fees which cover any incident from a fire to a stubbed toe, as long as you pay those you are fine, however if you choose not to pay your fire fee and your house does catch on fire then you are givien a bill for $1000 and until you pay that you are unable to sell your property. Maybe its just me but when I respond to a MVA it rarely if ever involves someone living in our protection area, so therefore the people getting charged from our services in reality are not already paying for them.
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  23. #23
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    Default User Fees vs. Flat Tax Rates

    This is a fairly common theme in local government these days. One way of stabilizing tax rates is to provide funding through user fees rather than a tax bill.

    Is it wrong? I don't think so.

    Given the dynamic nature of public safety, we are very likely to be dealing with non-residents, as has already been stated.

    Do you have to bill everyone? Not really... consider a nominal subscription service for residents in the community--maybe even different levels of subscription. $10/year, for example.

    People who don't subscribe (residents who don't care, non-residents, visitors, vacationers, etc) would then be billed.

    Determing what you are going to bill for is another issue also. Some common ones: extrication, haz-mat, nuisance responses, EMS, staffing large incidents, and SAR. Some, like haz-mat, might not be covered by the subscription service. All depends on how you want it to work. And it does work... it's working in places all across the country.

    I think there is a happy balance that can be reached with taxes and user fees.

    Originally posted by stm4710
    Fire departments should be non profit agencys! This is a basic fire service tradition from the days of friendly societys to 2004---the job is helping people when they need us most and doing it with out fanfair or sticking it to them!
    Hahaha that's such a warm and fuzzy quote. Soooooo, let's talk medicine. Should hospitals bill patients? How do you determine whom to bill and whom not to bill? I *highly* doubt a fire department is going to "profit" from user fees. And if by some mircale they do end up with a profit, the wise City/Town manager should make appropriate adjustments to their budget to ensure they are close to the "break-even" point. Isn't that where we should be? We're not billing to roll in the dough. Likewise, we shouldn't be sitting back and forcing tax payers to support non-taxpayers, system abusers, etc.
    Last edited by Resq14; 02-07-2004 at 02:44 AM.
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  24. #24
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    Sure you can as long as the firefighters received no compensation from the insurance companies, You have to speak to the insurance adjustors.

    You can bill when insurance is involved for:MVA,repetitive automatic fire alarms. I dont know anything about billing for structure fires unless equipment(hose,tools & turnout gear) has been damaged.
    If we don't do it nobody else will!!!!

  25. #25
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    This is a basic fire service tradition from the days of friendly societys to 2004---the job is helping people when they need us most and doing it with out fanfair or sticking it to them!
    Tradition. I really hate that word. I'm not in favor of sticking it to anyone either but charging for somethings is perfectly justified. Every summer we get called out for grass fires along the railroad tracks caused by sparks thrown from the wheels of the trains as they slow before passing through the LSU campus area of Baton Rouge. We put out the fires and send a bill to the rail company which owns the locomotive. OR We get called to one of the chemical plants for HazMat response and we will charge by the hour for each truck and FF on scene after 3 hours. And so on... Things that we don't charge for but I wish we did includes when we get paged out at 2am for a minor medical and the patient refuses treatment or transport. We really need to bill these fools.
    And whats wrong with fanfair? We need more fanfair and then maybe when the taxes which support us come up for renewal the public will get out and vote to keep them. We need to be on the front of the paper everytime we roll out to a fire or wreck or bad medical so that the citizens realize that we are worth keeping on the payroll when the Mayor starts looking for places to cut the budget. WE need photos of eveyone who completes a class along with a caption telling how this benefits the community in the paper as often as we can. Fanfair is good.
    Tradition? Tradition don't pay the bills.

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