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Ramsey VFD will bill for runs

January 14, 2009
Beginning tomorrow (Thursday), the Ramsey Volunteer Fire Department will begin billing for its services involving structure fires and cleanup at crash scenes. Runs that request firefighters for lifting assistance or other medical-related incidents will not be assessed a fee.

Ramsey VFD Chief Lonnie Leake said state statute has allowed fire departments to bill for services for the past 10 to 15 years, but his department had not chosen to do so.

But now, because of rising prices of fuel and supplies, Leake said the fire department will recoup some of its expenses by charging those who receive its services.

"We have seen our fuel (expenses) increase by about $8,000 over the previous year," Leake said, "and the cost of supplies, such as absorbents, have also risen."

Ramsey VFD, organized in July 1961, serves Blue River, Jackson and Spencer townships in northern Harrison County, for a total of 113.8 square miles. Its operating budget is funded by the trustees of those three townships as well as money the department receives from the Crandall Town Council, Harrison County government, the Harrison County Community Foundation and its two fundraisers, a chicken barbecue dinner in the spring and another one in the fall.

The fire department has added stations in New Salisbury and Frenchtown.

"The volume of runs has increased, also," Leake said, mostly due to an increase in population and more traffic in the Ramsey VFD's coverage area.

Homeowners, business owners or vehicle operators without insurance won't be expected to pay any bill they receive for services.

"Most insurance companies allow for the billing of fire departments," he said. "We won't prosecute those who don't have insurance."

Billing for a structure fire would begin at $250 for most response vehicles Ramsey VFD would use. (A legal notice outlining the schedule of service charges appears in today's newspaper.)

Only when there is an actual "working" fire will a bill be sent, Leake said.

So, with regard to false alarms, the fire department will not generate a bill, unless the problem persists.

"If they're not getting the problem resolved, we may have to consider billing them," Leake said.

(A legal notice detailing false fire alarm runs is also in today's newspaper.)

For the cleanup of hazardous material, a fuel spill or chemical and/or hazardous material-related fire, the fire department will bill the vehicle's owner or responsible party for the total dollar value of the assistance that was provided. (See related legal notice in today's newspaper.)

In order to pursue reimbursement from insurance companies, Leake said bills must be submitted within 30 days following the incident.

Money received from insurance companies that are billed or homeowners and business owners who are assessed a fee for a false fire alarm run can only be used for firefighting equipment, training, new buildings and maintenance on existing buildings.

Leake said he welcomes any phone calls regarding this matter. He can be reached at 267-5551.

(Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor may be reached at 738-4552 or jsaylor@corydondemocrat.com.)

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