1. #1
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    Default charging for putting the fire out

    are fire dept is thinking about charging the home owners insurance company for equiment and man hours to do the job same for car fires like using foam and other things that cost the dept money. I think ems does something like this. Does anyone know if the fd can even do such a thing is it legal being that we are vol dept.If anyone knows about anyone doing this let me no, thanks

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    Most homeowner insurance policies have a rider to pay a volunteer fire company $500 or $750 in the event of a call. While it's not the best time to hit up the homeowner you should contact wither their agent or the insurance company adjuster to have you added to the claim.

    It doesn't cost the policy holder anything so there is really no reason not to go after it if it's available. If you're worried about the Public Relations aspect of it there should be no problem. It was your fuel, your equipment and your apparatus that was used at the event, you're just looking to be reimbursed for your expenses.
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    your fuel, your equipment and your apparatus
    but if you are taxpayer funded, it's their fuel, their equipment, and their apparatus that you will be charging them to use.
    "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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    Okay, then you're reimbursing the tax coffers for the use of their funds.

    Most volunteer companies don't get enough tax money to worry about whose money is being spent. The key is the verbiage in the policy that says it will reimburse "VOLUNTEER" fire companies. It says nothing about municipal departments.
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    Originally posted by Bones42
    but if you are taxpayer funded, it's their fuel, their equipment, and their apparatus that you will be charging them to use.
    Our VFD uses the tax paid equipment to get us there to save lives and as much property as possible but then we also use the Compressed Air Foam Systems (CAFS) that require expendable foam resources, so we justify charging the insurance companys for this equipment and foam supply by noteing the well documented evidence that CAFS puts the fires out faster, which saves more insured property which reduces the insurance companys cost and they actually save money.

    We can also document the same facts to claim we save the city 4 times less city water by extinguishing the fire faster and more efficiantly with the CAFS foam, we use the L/A Cal. testing data. If we use the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) tests, we can claim we save as much as twenty times less water. This will sound good to citizens during dry weather and water restriction periods.

    Then if that's not enough to open the wallets, we can point out the amount of pollution we have reduced by using the CAFS foam to take 4 to 20 times more toxic smoke out of the air and greatly reduce or eliminate the polluted water run-off that finds its way back into the cities drinking water.

    If we add the oil eating microbes to the CAFS foam and scrub the roadway clean after vehicle crashes, the insurance companys pay for bioremediation which is more legal than sweeping the hazardous materials with oil sorb and illegally hauling it back to the fire station dumpster. There's more, but then I would sound like I'm trying to sell CAFS, and I am not doing that ,,,,,, yet!
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    I know we dont charge for putting out structure fires but we bill your car insurance company if you are a out of city person and you have a wreck in are district we charge for that. We charge for manpower, equipment and time we were there.

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    Double-edged sword...

    If you can charge the insurance company for your services, shouldn;t the insurance company be able to file a claim against the FD if they can prove that you did not put the fire out properly and actually caused more damage?

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    Originally posted by GeorgeWendtCFI
    Double-edged sword...

    If you can charge the insurance company for your services, shouldn;t the insurance company be able to file a claim against the FD if they can prove that you did not put the fire out properly and actually caused more damage?
    That's a very interesting point, I'm sure no lawyer but it seems to me that a FD is not imune from neglegent actions but I think, hopefully, that the good samaritan laws would provide some protection from the claims that the FD caused more damage than they protected.

    This brings up a subject that I would like to hear more comments about. I hope no one is tired of hearing about CAFS Foam but now that reputable testing agencies have documented the facts about CAFS being so much better than the old high volume water systems and suround and drown water tactics, I wonder if there could be legal implications because there is something better and we chose to not use it?

    Think about your house on fire and your FD used something that was 4 to 20 times less effective than the CAFS.

    A major city in California is being sued because the fire department did not use foam on a demolition landfill that was inside their city limits and they failed to control the toxic smoke and excessive water run-off. Made a lot of people sick and very unhappy with the fire department. The State and Feds had to hire a private contracter fire company to bring in the foam to control the fire and reduce the water run-off, I believe I read it's going to cost the city 10 million dollars plus all other expenses.
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    Good Samaritan Laws are for untrained people who stop to help. There are laws in some states that immunize government agencies from tort claims in some cases. But there is a ton of case law that holds the FD responsible for certain losses. You need to tread lightly. You just might get what you wish for.

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    Originally posted by GeorgeWendtCFI
    But there is a ton of case law that holds the FD responsible for certain losses. You need to tread lightly. You just might get what you wish for.

    I'm not sure if my wish is not in the best interest of the citizens we are sworn to protect. I know CAFS is not a magic wand but if there WERE such a thing as a magic wand, I would wish that the fire departments would use it to reduce the toxic stuff that is in most things that burn. In fact I might be rather upset if they didn't use it and allowed the citizens to suffer because they didn't.

    Did you know that the EPA has published a report named "What's in Wood Smoke" that identifies more than 100 toxic compounds in plain ol wood smoke? And six of those compounds are known carcinogens and others CAUSE diseases such as asthma?

    I wish more departments would use CAFS.
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    George,
    I am not a lawyer or an insurance rep but I am good friends with the president of a small regional insurance company that writes fire policies so I asked him about charging insurance companies for fire calls. His response was: They did not like paying for fire calls when the State of South Dakota required them to put it in the policy. Once they started paying they realized they were getting good feedback from fire departments and have come to look at paying a reasonable amount for fire calls as good PR. He also said the policy is a contract between the "owner" and the insurance company. The fire department is not a partner in any way unless gross negligence occurs, such as lighting a fire in the kitchen to prevent a bedroom fire from spreading to the garage, his words - not mine. Only if gross negligence occurs will the fire departments insurance become involved. If department actions are bad enough the individuals giving the orders will be left holding the bag.

    According to my friend, insurance companies have gone after fire departments, that screwed up, in the past and will in the future. He said it has nothing to do with departments billing for fire calls. Insurance company lawyers spend their time going after the parties responsible if there is a big claim paid out. He said insurance companies must show a profit to their stockholders or they will not be in business, insurance regulators will shut them down.

    On the issue of charging for the fuel, equipment, etc. that tax dollars bought, our budget from taxes collected is for equipment maintenance only. Once in a great while we can pry some tax funds loose to upgrade equipment. Charging for fire calls is a fact of life for my department. We do not bill by the truck or man hour but I hope we will start to on extended calls in the near future.

    We bill for all fire calls and are just starting to bill for MVA's. If the insurance company chooses not to pay and a couple choose not to, we forgive the bill. To take an insurance company to court you must sue the individual to get to the insurance company. We have never done that but I know of a dept. that last Sept. was on their 3rd time in court to collect payment for fire calls. They won the 2 previous times. I never asked how they came out this time. I do not think we will ever take someone to court to collect for a fire call but who knows.

    Brad

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    Originally posted by Bowbreaker
    George,
    I am not a lawyer or an insurance rep but I am good friends with the president of a small regional insurance company that writes fire policies so I asked him about charging insurance companies for fire calls. His response was: They did not like paying for fire calls when the State of South Dakota required them to put it in the policy. Once they started paying they realized they were getting good feedback from fire departments and have come to look at paying a reasonable amount for fire calls as good PR. He also said the policy is a contract between the "owner" and the insurance company. The fire department is not a partner in any way unless gross negligence occurs, such as lighting a fire in the kitchen to prevent a bedroom fire from spreading to the garage, his words - not mine. Only if gross negligence occurs will the fire departments insurance become involved. If department actions are bad enough the individuals giving the orders will be left holding the bag.

    According to my friend, insurance companies have gone after fire departments, that screwed up, in the past and will in the future. He said it has nothing to do with departments billing for fire calls. Insurance company lawyers spend their time going after the parties responsible if there is a big claim paid out. He said insurance companies must show a profit to their stockholders or they will not be in business, insurance regulators will shut them down.

    On the issue of charging for the fuel, equipment, etc. that tax dollars bought, our budget from taxes collected is for equipment maintenance only. Once in a great while we can pry some tax funds loose to upgrade equipment. Charging for fire calls is a fact of life for my department. We do not bill by the truck or man hour but I hope we will start to on extended calls in the near future.

    We bill for all fire calls and are just starting to bill for MVA's. If the insurance company chooses not to pay and a couple choose not to, we forgive the bill. To take an insurance company to court you must sue the individual to get to the insurance company. We have never done that but I know of a dept. that last Sept. was on their 3rd time in court to collect payment for fire calls. They won the 2 previous times. I never asked how they came out this time. I do not think we will ever take someone to court to collect for a fire call but who knows.

    Brad
    I'm fully aware of how insurance works. I never said there was a contractual agreement between the insurance co. and the FD. My point was that the charging of money for fire suppression may affect the tort immunity that some states bestow on FD's. Gross negligence is not the standard, negligence is. I would never do it, but take my word for it, there are fire "experts" out there that will critique your FD operations and compare them to the national standards and come up with a scenario that makes it look like the best FD in the world is extremely inept.

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    I wish more departments would use CAFS.
    I wish more departments would wear proper gear.
    "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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    Default Wave of the future

    I think you're going to see it more. Once governmentals find out they can replenish the general coffers by bilking insurance companies or other governments they will do so. Fairfax County is just rolling out egregious charges for ambulance transports because they know that they can get the money from the insurance / medicare. The FD doesn't even get an allocation of the money...straight back to the general fund.

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    Originally posted by Bones42
    I wish more departments would wear proper gear.

    LOL! I get a kick out of these posts, I was wondering what comments the photo might bring.

    Which is most important? the guys not wearing airpacs or the fact that the white stuff has encapsulated the particulate matter and sealed the smoke to show something different and hopfully an improvement over sucking a few extra bottles of air that's been filled and heated by a compressor then filtered. And along with the extra heart attack exertion normally required for overhaul. These guys were tired and had been on the warehouse fire for 4 hours before the cafs arrived.
    Mark Cummins

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    the guys not wearing airpacs or the fact that the white stuff has encapsulated the particulate matter and sealed the smoke
    Ok salesman, I'll buy into the fact that the CAFS sealed the smoke instantly so there never was any in the air.


    and yes, it's just a picture showing 1 second of life.
    "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
    Ok salesman, I'll buy into the fact that the CAFS sealed the smoke instantly so there never was any in the air.


    and yes, it's just a picture showing 1 second of life.
    Jeez, do you really think that this guy is a salesman? I wonder if he knows Des?

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    Default Re: Wave of the future

    Originally posted by FlyingRon
    I think you're going to see it more. Once governmentals find out they can replenish the general coffers by bilking insurance companies or other governments they will do so. Fairfax County is just rolling out egregious charges for ambulance transports because they know that they can get the money from the insurance / medicare. The FD doesn't even get an allocation of the money...straight back to the general fund.
    Yep, Fairfax is being rediculous. And we wonder why insurance rates are always rising. Everyone wants a piece ot the pie, even when taxs have already covered that piece.
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    I would imagine that there must be rules that require the funds to go back into the general fund. That is why you see things like a Municipal Utility Authority set up to recieve and use their own revenue.

    Ambulance transports are different than fires. If the FD/EMS agency does not charge for the transport, the scab companies are going to do it and charge just as much. And the money goes into the corporation. Seems to me that it is a good thing for the city to get a piece of the pie.

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    That is how our accounts are set up. We have to keep all of the monies seperate. We do charge for MVA's and have the ability to charge for structure fires IF the owner didn't pay the Fire Service Fee. We have never charged for a structure but do charge for almost all MVA's. For our State / County, we had to get the county commission to pass an ordinance to allow the FD's to bill. We tried to bill before this but alot of the insurance companies would not pay. Our county set the fees we can charge so all departments charge the same.

    Just my 2 cents worth.

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    My volunteer department is a non-for-profit charitable organization that sells subscriptions for fire service. Buy a subscription and you get all your fire runs for free--don't subscribe and you get a $500 bill per fire call.

    We do not get tax money, except in the roundabout way through state grants, and subscription fees pay normal operating costs--i.e. insurance, fuel, utilities, etc.

    We have filed suit on, I believe, 3 individuals or companies within the last few years. The first time we filed suit, the Court Clerk (I think) asked if $500 was all we wanted to ask for, as the fire department always won in these situations (in our county). In all cases to date, the individuals named in the suit paid in full prior to the court date.

    I should mention that we send at least two notices to the individual explaining the amount due and the process that will occur (filing a suit in court) if the bill isn't paid. Our Board also will work out payment plans, which we've done on many occassions. Also, if the people are realtively new to the district and we have reason to believe they were unaware that they could subscribe for fire service, we have forgiven the $500 in lieu of a subscription.
    Bryan Beall
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    Default Charging for service

    I can't believe what I am hearing. How do these departments stay open. Where does the money come from to operate. Volunteer fire departments recieve money from somewhere. I would have to assume that the community at some time or another paid some type of funding into the department so that they would feel protected. If your department is having trouble staying afloat, you should consider exploring some type of change in your funding procedures. In our state, every resident of a county or municipality pays a fire tax to support their department. Another way of looking at it, how much is the homeowner going to charge your department when a simple room and contents fire ends up burning their house to the ground. Think about.

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    Our department protects a 32 square mile district that is very rural and unincorporated. There's no form of municipal government. The county does not have a fire tax.

    Our tax-funding options would be to either 1) form a town and have the town levy a tax or 2) form a fire district that taxes through millages. With only about 2000-2500 people in the district and less than 100 fire/medical calls a year, it's pretty hard to justify levying a tax, in our opinion.

    Also, levying a tax politicizes (sp?) the whole process. We don't feel like having to go out and campaign for a vote every year. We have enough on our hands as it is with training and maintanance.

    Anyway, Oklahoma state law gives us the right to bill for services. It's very, very common here.
    Bryan Beall
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    Cfire .....

    I am sure that you are an intelligent person but please, please, please stop making EVERY damn post an advertisement for CAFS, especially when it really has nothing to do woth the subject at hand.

    By the way, what the hell does CAFS have to do with the fire department charging for sevices?

    If you want to advertise CAFS take out a damn ad.

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