Thursday, May 14, 2009

Fire Department billing back on the agenda

Despite having been voted down the last time, the plan to bill for fire department responses has turned up again - just like a bad penny.

Here is the text of the ordinance, including the billing amounts:

ORD.

Establishing and implementing a program to charge the cost of fire service fees within the response area of the Toledo Fire & Rescue Department; and declaring an emergency.

SUMMARY & BACKGROUND:
The Toledo Fire & Rescue Department (TFRD) provides fire suppression, emergency, and rescue services in and around the City of Toledo. The TFRD is equipped with and utilizes certain apparatus, emergency tools, equipment, and materials as a means of saving lives and property. Furthermore, the purchase of said tools, equipment, and materials is a significant expense for the City of Toledo.

The persons or entities requiring emergency services in the City of Toledo, and for whom the referenced apparatus, tools, equipment, and materials have been utilized have resources including insurance coverage that will reimburse the costs associated with the use, loss, damage and wear and tear to said tools, equipment, and materials incurred in connection with the act of rendering emergency services to said persons or entities.

The Toledo City Council deems the establishment and implementation of fire service fees for the City of Toledo is in the best benefit of the citizens of the City of Toledo through which beneficiaries of fire services are required to pay a fair and reasonable share of the cost of loss and wear and tear to apparatus, tools, equipment, and materials used, so that a safe and appropriate level of service can be maintained and made available to the City. NOW, THEREFORE,

Be it ordained by the Council of the City of Toledo:

SECTION 1. The City shall have the authority to establish and implement a program of fire service fees and bill both persons and entities for the reasonable costs that are related to the use, loss, damage, and wear and tear to said apparatus, tools, equipment, and materials necessary to provide the fire services and 911 response rendered to said persons and entities, subject to the conditions and limitations of this ordinance.

SECTION 2. The Mayor, Director of Finance and the Director of the Department of Fire & Rescue may make rules or regulations, and from time-to-time may amend, revoke or add rules and regulations, not consistent with this Section as they may deem necessary or expedient in respect to billing for these fees or the collection thereof. Any rules, regulations, amendments and addition to such rules shall be available for public inspection at each fire station and shall be filed with the Clerk of Council.

SECTION 3. The following fees may be assessed and collected for usage of apparatus, equipment and materials:
APPARATUS/PERSONNEL
Apparatus / Price per Hour**
Engine - Class A $500.00
Aerial $750.00
Tanker/Tender $500.00
Rescue (Light)-Brush Truck $425.00
Rescue (Heavy) - SERT/TRT $600.00
Batt. Chief / Shift Commander $200.00
other Chief Officer $75.00
Support Unit*** $250.00
** The minimum usage charge for any item in this list is one hour, and for any additional hours or portions thereof, the charge will be prorated using 1/4 hour increments.
*** Support Units include but are not limited to Mobile Command Posts, air trailers, Light Trailers, Generator Trucks and Rehab Units.

(charts of other fees)



SECTION 4. The City is authorized if it so deems necessary the establishment of a third-party billing and revenue recovery contract with a professional services company, hereinafter referred to as an “authorized agent”, qualified to bill and recover the uniform charges and with established valid reputation in recovering such charges.

SECTION 5. Fees shall be recovered by the authorized agent for services provided by the fire departments authorized to operate within the City of Toledo. Fire department administrations shall utilize applicable incident report information provided to the authorized agent as the basis for the charge and recovery of Fire Service Fees for each incident the City authorizes.

SECTION 6. The City, or their authorized agent, subject to the conditions and limitations of this ordinance, shall submit an invoice to the person, entity or relevant insurance company covering the particular loss for the emergency services rendered. If it can be reliably determined that there is no insurance coverage for a particular emergency incident which causes the Toledo Fire Department to use, or incur loss, damage, and wear and tear to apparatus, tools, equipment, and materials; the City may recover any such fees from the person or entity that received said emergency services or the person or entity responsible for the debts and obligations of the person or entity that received such emergency services. Recipients of the services of the Toledo Fire Department shall respond freely and cooperatively to fire service inquiries (including those of their authorized agent), regarding their insurance coverage. Recipients of the services of the Toledo Fire Department shall be invoiced directly under the terms of this ordinance if they do not carry insurance sufficient to cover the impact to the City of Toledo’s loss of capital or material.

SECTION 7. All amounts collected as a result of this Ordinance shall be placed into the General Fund of the City of Toledo into an account deemed appropriate by the Finance Director of the City of Toledo.

SECTION 8. It is found and determined that all formal actions of this City Council concerning and relating to the passage of this Ordinance were passed in open meetings of this City Council, and that all deliberations of this City Council and any of its committees that resulted in such formal actions were in compliance with all legal requirements, the Ohio Revised Code and the Toledo Municipal Code.

SECTION 9. That this Ordinance hereby is declared to be an emergency measure and shall be in force and effect from and after its passage. The reason for the emergency lies in the fact that same is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, safety and property, and for the further reason that this Ordinance must be immediately effective in order to maintain a high level of quality emergency services by the Fire Department.

Call your city council members (419-245-1050) or send them an email ... They work for you!

3 comments:

Hooda Thunkit said...

Maggie,

I'll bcc you, Brian and Fred after I calm down enough to see straight and compose my letter to our reps.

This constitutes triple taxation (1-1/2 % plus 3/4 % plus these new fees) and is unconscionable.

What's next, charging for the radar equipment AND the speeding ticket AND the police officer's time for speeding violations???

Where will it end if we don't tell them no now?

navyvet said...

What is the cut for the billing/collection vendor?

I thought the fire chief said residents would not be charged. Sect. 6 indicates he told an "untruth."

The A-Hole Lawyer said...

Somewhat related to billing, I have an issue with dispatch and response.

As I was driving home Tuesday on 17th, I saw a scooter parked on the sidewalk. It was upright, the kickstand down, and I saw no evidence of damage. A lady was sitting on the light pole abutment, with her shoe and sock off, holding her ankle up, like it had been sprained. I did not see any blood. Some people from the adjacent convenience store parking lot, were talking to the woman.

As I drove past I heard a siren, and instead of seeing an ambulance as I expected, I pulled over to let TWO FIRETRUCKS pass by, which stopped at her location. Really - two firetrucks.

Now, perhaps the scooter was hit by a car, and the call came into 911 that way, but dispatching two firetrucks for an injured ankle is asinine. No police were present at the time, and even with layoffs, I believe that if it was a hit and run or traffic violation based injury, they would have been on scene first.

What training, discretion, and choices do dispatchers have when sending first responders out? At a minimum dispatch could have gotten from the caller, "she is conscious, not bleeding, and appears to have a HURT ANKLE."

No wonder the budget is so out of whack that the issue of service fees for fire and police has risen its ugly head again.

TAHL

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