Becoming trapped in a damaged vehicle after an accident is a nightmare for every driver. An Illinois resident was driving on the evening of March 7 when their vehicle collided with another driver. When police arrived on the scene, one vehicle was on its side with a driver stuck inside. Fire rescue services were able to free the person inside using the Jaws of Life, a device used to pry occupants trapped in severely damaged vehicles.
While the fire department services are vital, some drivers may have concerns over the cost of these services. The Freeport City Council is discussing a new ordinance that would allow the fire department to charge insurance companies to come out to the scene of an accident. The proposed fees are $500 for each time someone dispatches firefighters to an accident scene. On top of that, the fire department would add $675 for a vehicle fire and $1,400 for an extraction like the accident above.
Freeport City Fire Chief Todd Allen says charging insurance companies for these dispatches would add $60,000 in annual revenue to pay for essential fire-fighting equipment. Allen says that these fees are already in every driver’s insurance policy, so drivers wouldn’t be at-risk for rising premiums. He argues they would be taking advantage of money that’s already available.
The fire department claimed to respond to 135 accident calls, eight of which were vehicle fires and six were extractions in 2018. With the above fees, that would amount to $81,300 before the third-party billing company received their 20-percent commission cut. That would leave approximately $65,000 for the fire department to spend as they see fit.
Finding creative ways to continue providing life-saving services and maintaining essential fire-fighting equipment is sometimes necessary. Freeport Fire Department had a $62,250 budget for supplies in 2018 and added revenue would likely double that amount. It seems that residents should be able to continue to count on the fire department for emergency services if they’re involved in an accident without fearing their insurance premiums rising because the emergency services expenses are built into most insurance plans.