1. #1
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    Post Charging fees for response?

    Cleveland, other cities to charge for accident help
    cmohclemw
    CLEVELAND (AP) - This cash-strapped city hopes charging drivers
    or their insurance companies when the fire department responds to
    traffic accidents will raise $2.5 million to rehire some laid off
    firefighters.
    The bills will range from $590 for minor accidents to $850 for
    freeing people from wreckage.
    Suburban Brooklyn plans to charge similar fees to out-of-town
    drivers but will exempt city residents and people who work in the
    city. Parma officials are considering charging for the use of their
    firefighters at accidents.
    The southern Ohio cities of Carlisle and Franklin already charge
    for putting out house fires.
    Greg Maize, spokesman for State Farm Insurance Cos., said the
    idea of charging for services typically supported by taxes is
    spreading like wildfire among financially struggling cities.
    Critics contend it is unfair for communities to charge for
    services that residents already pay for with taxes.
    "It's ridiculous," said Diane Furiga of Parma. "To me, it's
    like double taxation. They're trying to come in the back door and
    get money out of your back pocket."
    Cities looking to balance budgets during economic hard times
    contend that recovering the costs of fire departments is long
    overdue.
    "I'm excited," said Cleveland Councilman Joe Jones, who
    sponsored his city's plan. "Were bringing in new revenues."
    Cleveland, which faced a $62 million deficit before layoffs and
    other cuts, expects its 8,400 fire runs to generate up to $2.5
    million a year. Mayor Jane Campbell plans to use most of the money
    to rehire firefighters.
    Fairborn, near Dayton, will bring in more than $850,000 in its
    first year of billing insurance companies, Battalion Chief Mike
    Riley said.
    Some cities, including Cleveland and Brooklyn, have contracted
    with companies such as HealthServe LLC of Columbus to prepare the
    billings. HealthServe charges communities 5.5 percent of its
    collections.
    Insurance companies criticize the practice, saying cities use
    the companies because they lack the political courage to ask
    taxpayers themselves to pay the bills.
    "Its a hidden tax," said Bob Hartwig, chief economist for the
    Insurance Information Institute. "Ultimately, it will raise your
    premiums."
    HealthServe's marketing chief, Glenn Goodpaster, said insurance
    companies actually save money by having firefighters at accident
    scenes.
    Firefighters help injured people, for example, and prevent
    explosions by cleaning up spilled gasoline.
    Parma wants to build three fire stations and beef up the ranks
    of its department. Mayor Dean DePiero envisions paying for the
    stations with money collected for fire services.
    Insurers fear that cities will gouge them.
    Brooklyn Fire Chief Paul Duchoslav said he would charge only if
    his firefighters perform meaningful services at an accident.
    "We're not going to take them to the cleaners," he said.

    (Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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    Personally i see no problem with charging insurance companies for some responses, such as medical (why are we any different than EMS?), extraordinary resues (one could debate if standard vehicle extracation fits into that catagory), excessive alarm responses due to the owner not repairing the system or bad design and hazardous materials calls(the last 2 the owner should be billed directly). Many communties, including the one I recently move from do already have alarm and haz-mat billing systems in place and have been meet with a minimum resistance. As far as charging for fires ... that is one that I would have to think longer about.

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    Fire districts around me have been charging those in accidents for years, if those involved do not live in the district. Our billings are usually $400 - $600 for a "typical" auto accident. Insurance companies rarely dispute the charges as they are generally paid through the medical portion of the policy. I did have one person question the charges and threaten a lawsuit but that was before she knew the insurance company had already sent the check. Didn't hear anything else about it. While it doesn't generate a great deal of money for us, every dollar helps.
    Jack Boczek, Chief
    Ashley Community Fire Protection District

    FLATLANDERS FOREVER!

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    hmmmm, charging for each fire response....budgets a little tight this year, need some extra revenue to pay for truck, hey, let's go set some fires and raise revenue!

    And don't try and say it won't happen, it already does. How many FF's this year and last were caught setting fires to increase their pay?
    "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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    Originally posted by Bones42
    hmmmm, charging for each fire response....budgets a little tight this year, need some extra revenue to pay for truck, hey, let's go set some fires and raise revenue!

    And don't try and say it won't happen, it already does. How many FF's this year and last were caught setting fires to increase their pay?
    Sorry, my pay is the same whether I run for 24 straight hours or we sit for the same.

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    Default Drawbacks

    The problem I have with charging for false alarms, is that some people may decide to not call and just check the alarm themselves, which could waste valuable time in a fire situation. Secondly, in Toronto at least, they treat all buildings the same, 2 malicious alarms per year and 2 nuiscance alarms during each two month period, after that they can bill you, so a small apartment building with a couple of detectors gets the same number of "free" alarms as a large industrial complex or hospital with a big alarm system. The larger buildings with many occupants and larger alarm systems, are bound to have more false alarms.

    I'm not totally against charging for alarms, many buildings don't maintain their systems or are very careless when doing maintenance, so they should pay for their misdeeds.

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    We have a 10 sq. mile district, but our primary response area is 1,025 sq. miles. People outside the district can subscribe ($100/yr), or we bill them at $200/hr per truck. Why should the district folks pay for the out of district calls?
    BTW, I live outside the district, and subscribe - no break for members.

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    I have seen billing for accidents. Actually, it was just part of the EMS transport bill; if you had to be cut out of your car, needed 5 firefighters to haul you down the stairs, or needed the fire in your engine block put out before we cut you out, then an extra $50 or $100 (something like that) was tacked onto the EMS bill.
    I've also seen fines (not fees) for nuisance alarms as well as unregistered alarms. I look at those more along the lines of encouraging people to keep their alarms system maintained in order to cut down on false alarm responses versus funding the department though.
    Forestry also collects for illegal burns or burns that got out of control.
    I agree with the point that fees shouldn't be a crutch for a service that is supposed to be tax-funded. In a perfect world, I would love to see all responses be tax-funded only, including EMS transports, but in our imperfect world, we at least need small fees to discourage people from using 911 for a taxi service or for failing to maintain fire alarms or burn brush safely.

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    Politicians are NOT looking outside the box. Need more Firefighters? Recruit Volunteers. That's one way to increase staffing. Older core cities often have too many stations. Anyone guess how much you can improve your service by closing three old houses, each with a single engine staffed with 2 people? Move ALL the people and 2 Engines into a new station, properly located to cover the area, put 1 Engine in reserve, and operate 2 3 person Engines out of one house. Sell the old stations, get the property back on the tax rolls, and stop waiting for more help to arrive so you can have 2in, 2out.
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    Don't charge residents or people who work in the city, Twp. etc.

    What if the accident victim doesn't want the F.D. called, but someone else calls? Should be no charge.

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    We charge for many of our calls. From structure fires to HAZMAT calls. Below is a nice report done on this courtesy of the Iowa Fire Service Training Bureau

    http://www.state.ia.us/government/dp...essingfees.PDF

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    I dont believe in it personally, and no one around are region does it that I know of. We are already getting money from a tax base, and I also think it will send premiuns through the roof.
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    Josh, Do not come to far up 75. Once you cross the state line I think most of the departments that cover the expressway through Monroe County charge.

    We do not charge but the townships are starting to charge. A friend of mine got a $800 bill form the township because the car they were cutting up for scrap caught fire. It was really a do nothing fire. Worst part of it his dad is the Chief of the dept that covers the other half of the township that we don't.

    I do not like the idea because it looks like we are doing the billing even though it goes back into the township general fund
    Les Hartford
    Assistant Chief
    LMR Fire Dept.

    The views posted here are strickly my own and not of any of the groups I am affiliated with.

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    It's funny, most people on here don't like companies such as Rural Metro and the like because of what they stand for. How is charging for all calls not opening the door to privatization? What happens when the citizens realize they are being charged for something they already pay taxes for and decide to shop around for the best bargain. People will stop calling so they don't get charged. Insurance companies aren't going to take the hit, they will certainly pass on the extra cost to the consumers.

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    In our department, we had to do something. Our tax base is so little because of the simple fact that it is regulated by townshup trustees. If we did in fact receive decent funding from township trustees we wouldnt be doing this. Additionally, we bill the insurance company on behalf of the property owner. If after several billings the insurance company doesn't pay we usually do not pursue the bill anymore.

    Some points from that report for those of you who haven't read it....

    "A similar example might be a community's water system mains that provide capacity and were built by taxes. The city then charges for the actual water delivered."

    "A significant rationale for instituting fees on tax supported emergency services lies in the premise that tax levies pay for the ability to respond, while fees pay the cost of response."

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    Only time we charge is on Fire Alarm calls..You get one freebie..Then you pay every time after
    If someone with multiple personalities threatens to kill himself, is it considered a hostage situation?

    Ryan

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    I see no problem charging people who dont live(pay taxes)in your fire protection area. Why should they get the same service for free that your citizens have to pay for?

    We have a large amount of tourist traffic, and they generate a lot of calls for service. I live in my protection area, and it burns my a** every time we run on a tourist. I'M paying for HIS service

    I also dont have a problem billing insurance companies for useing say, 500 gallons of foam on a gas tanker fire. Why not?

    We charge a fee for yearly fire inspections and we also have fines for repeat false fire alarms (3 malfunctions in 6 months = $150). We dont charge for pulled alarms or alarms caused by weather or power surges, only system malfunctions. I think we should be doing more!

    Dave

    PS: Before you ask, no, I wouldnt have a problem being charged if I ever needed another FD's service. I have to pay for everything else.

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    Our county charges $250? per call. We are only required to bill if we actually do something. False alarms odor investigation ect are not billed. Sometimes things are done"without" being reported,thus no bill. Not our idea, but we work for the elected officials so we have to follow the rules.

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    We charge for auto extrication. I beleive the bill is less than $100, but I am not sure. We do not charge for any type of fire call.

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    I love this place... we were just talking about this same subject at the station the other night, kicking around some pros/cons and here I come into the forums and others are discussing it already. Gotta love the timely info!

    Anyway, here's are situation. We are a municipal department funded out of the general tax levy, no seperate fire tax, etc. We have no real problem with our budget however recently there have been some questions by tax payers (actually newly elected township officials) regarding non-residents getting their service for 'free.' The reason being is that we cover a large stretch of 2-4 lane interstate highway which on an annual basis generates between 55 & 60% of our call volume and of that only a handful are actual residents most are people passing through on their commute to work or wherever.

    We were contemplating implementing a charge for highway responses (car fires, mva's, haz-mat, etc). Currently the only thing we charge for are excess false fire alarms. You get 2 for free and the 3rd you start paying a fee that increases with each false activation (has to be from equipment malfunction, can't be things like food on the stove, shower steam, etc)

    I see a few people charge for med. response, but does anyone divide up their calls and charge the way I suggested? If so, how is it administered (who sends the bill, etc)

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    We charge for both fire and 1st responder ems if the victim/patient lives out of our district. IL law lets us charge a max. of $125/hr/truck and $35/hr/man. That's what we bill, charging for the number of FFs/1st Resonders that actually go to the scene. Another dept. around us charges for every FF that shows up at the station for the call. We do our own billing, sending bills to the person unless we have the insurance agent's name, then they get a copy of it, too.
    Greaper, $100 for an extrication is CHEAP!!
    Jack Boczek, Chief
    Ashley Community Fire Protection District

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    First charging only non residents is chicken_____ BS. Anyone respect cities with cops that only give traffic tickets out of towners?? Out of towners get benefit of fire protection when in your fair city? We so do your residents when they are traveling. It's call reciprocity.

    Your residents are paying for fire calls out of their taxes and object to pay for service???? How much they paying to fund your department operations? Total up the tax bill on typical home and multiple the % that goes to fire protection. Maybe $30-50/yr. Likely less than that. Most likely more goes just to pay their piece of the city liability insurance bill. Taxes pay for putting capability in place. Want to reserve the fancy park shelter for a family outing, you pay a fee in most cities, no one complains. Ambulance picks you up to transport to hospital you get a bill, it's expected. If you use the fire service then pay for the use. No use no bill.

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    Originally posted by neiowa
    First charging only non residents is chicken_____ BS. Anyone respect cities with cops that only give traffic tickets out of towners?? Out of towners get benefit of fire protection when in your fair city? We so do your residents when they are traveling. It's call reciprocity.

    Your residents are paying for fire calls out of their taxes and object to pay for service???? How much they paying to fund your department operations? Total up the tax bill on typical home and multiple the % that goes to fire protection. Maybe $30-50/yr. Likely less than that. Most likely more goes just to pay their piece of the city liability insurance bill. Taxes pay for putting capability in place. Want to reserve the fancy park shelter for a family outing, you pay a fee in most cities, no one complains. Ambulance picks you up to transport to hospital you get a bill, it's expected. If you use the fire service then pay for the use. No use no bill.
    Charging out of towners for EMS runs is Not BS

    Reciprocity? Give me a break
    You mean to tell me that if your ambulance transports me, and I am not from the area, that I won't get a bill from you?

    We have a lot of EMS runs for tourist. We bill the non residents to recoup our cost. You don't get tax money from state park lands, so they are in our district, but not paying into it. In the summer months tourist are the bulk of our EMS and rescues. Its not chicken****, it's called running your FD like a business.

    We could legally "softbill" residents, but we don't, and stretch the fire tax levy to cover our needs.

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    Some really good points being made here. We have charged for our services since the beginning. Our townships donít levy any fire taxes.

    I think those departments that charge will agree with me when I say charging is one thing, collecting is another. Those of you that are considering charging only those from out of town, try collecting from someone five states away. Itís not easy. If you plan to pursue every invoice to limits, be prepared to spend a lot of time on the phone.

    I agree the added costs to insurance companies will come back to all of us on our insurance costs. Especially if some are going to charge over $500.00 for a simple extrication.

    No comments on Chief Woods' suggestions? Hmmm.......

    I am disappointed that so many government bodies are looking for alternative revenue sources instead of addressing the problem in this Country. Anyone else remember the ďGiant sucking soundĒ that Ross warned us about? Let me tell you, in Michigan itís a deafening roar.

    Stay Safe

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    Most of these posts deal with MVA charges. How many of your departments charge insurance companies for home responses? I believe the majority of the country's Insurance companies have a provision in their coverage called,Fire Department Service Charge. Check your homeowners policy, I bet it's there.

    It will reimburse the fire department up to $500-$1000 for any response to your home. It is not part of your deductible nor will it increase your premiums. Few departments collect this fee that most homeowners are forced to carry.

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