Fire Department billing

If I was a fire chief, I would choose not to bill for services. At the same time, I don’t think the state should tell a local government that they cannot bill for those services. Billing is a local issue to be decided by locals. I have heard several arguments for and against, and there are convincing issues on both sides.  I don’t pretend to understand all of them because I don’t work in local government.  As we talk about the financial challenges that come with all the different services we provide now, the discussion moves to this question: what services is the fire department required to perform?  The answer to this question will be different depending on where you are in this state; 46 counties, 46 different answers.  At one time, our mission was simple – we respond to fires.  Fast forward to the present day, our services have been expanded to include hazardous materials response, vehicle extrication, technical rescue and the list goes on. What do the citizens we serve expect of us? What will they say if we start billing for services? Some departments have been billing for years and don’t hear any complaints from their citizens because most bills are sent directly to the insurance company. One thing I would like to eliminate is frivolous billing. We don’t like to talk about it, but I know it happens. If you run a call and perform a significant task, and your organization bills, then bill. But don’t send a bill for that fender bender when you were only there for ten minutes and barely got off the truck.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this emerging issue so please share your comments below. Be constructive and positive and keep the conversation going.

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