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Town to Charge Homeowners, Businesses for Firefighting Water

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  • Town to Charge Homeowners, Businesses for Firefighting Water

    News Channel 10
    RICHMOND, R.I. -- Richmond has instituted an unusual fee. If a home or business catches fire and it takes more than a set amount of water to put it out, the town may send the owner a bill.

    "It's not that the town of Richmond is callous. It's that the town of Richmond looks closely at the cost of delivering services," Town Council President W. Michael Sullivan said.

    When it comes to fighting fires in the Richmond Water District, 30,000 gallons of water is the cap. After that, the owner will be asked to help foot the bill.

    "We're not denying them water. We're just asking for them to pay for the water they're using beyond the normal use for any house or dwelling in the town," Town Councilman Kevin Gosper said.

    But town officials say by their calculations, most homeowners are not likely to get a bill.

    "According to our local fire chief, (30,000 gallons) is enough to put out a fire when the average single family home is fully consumed," Sullivan said.

    But while homeowners will probably not see a bill, some businesses might. Two big commercial fires this year took more than 1 million gallons of water to put out.

    "We're trying to encourage these businesses to design appropriately to save this precious resource of water," Sullivan said.

  • #2
    I can see it now...water meters attached to the HAV's amd hydrant gates....
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY


    • #3
      Will the water meter attached to the hydrant or truck be provided by the municipality, or something more for the Fire Department to purchase?
      "The uniform is supposed to say something about you. You get it for nothing, but it comes with a history, so do the right thing when you're in it."
      Battalion Chief Ed Schoales
      from 'Report from Ground Zero' pg 149
      I.A.C.O.J. Member


      • #4
        Politicians come up with some real winners in the ideas department don't they?


        • #5
          The 30,000gal limit should not effect home owners. I mean really, thats a lot of freakin water.

          As for the big businesses that this may affect, perhaps it will motivate them to make safer buildings and improve their fire prevention methods.


          • #6
            Originally posted by ffspo0k
            The 30,000gal limit should not effect home owners. I mean really, thats a lot of freakin water.

            As for the big businesses that this may affect, perhaps it will motivate them to make safer buildings and improve their fire prevention methods.
            It is kinda sad that this is what it takes to motivate buisnesses to protect their property with adequate supression and detection equipment.
            Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.


            • #7
              I would like to see what the surcharge would be. For the sake of discussion If it was at 10 cents per gallon, that million gallon industrial fire would have cost $100,000 to the owner.

              If it was 2 cents a gallon, it would have been only $20,000. Probably not enough to encourage any additional fire prevention or suppression equipment.

              That was also an incredibly unique fire as well. Since the average heavy industrial fire would probably only use half of that water, their potential bill would be less than $10,000. That may seem like a lot to you and I, but it is petty cash to a major industrial operation.

              I think it will help the city pay the usual peripheral bills after a fire (water costs, cleanup, road/property damage) but I just don't see a big effect to the businesses. Plus, it will almost certainly be an insured cost.
              Never argue with an Idiot. They drag you down to their level, and then beat you with experience!



              • #8
                I should've mentioned in the beginning, for consideration during your responses- Richmond-Carolina is a volunteer department protecting 5,000 people in a rural/residential area.


                • #9
                  Thats exactly the type of plan we have too COLLEGEBUFF...the only difference is we will charge for hauling POTABLE water(if this plan goes thru with my board) only since we have a difficult time getting funding(were in a welfare town..never no money ) and since this area has no "utilities".People here either must haul thier own water or have it hauled for them.On our tanker,when we first got it,it had a water meter inline with the piping.This truck was originally used by the subdevelopment owner here for making water deliveries and charging people for the amount that was used(thus one of the reasons thier millionnaires now).In a prior post on another forum here,a user brought up the idea of us putting the water meter back on the truck and hauling water to help increase our budget.As to date POTABLE water has been the only thing carried on this truck as it still has the "thermoplastic" lining inside the tank.We do not add any chemicals to the water in that particular truck.I have not yet brought this idea before my board yet but I will during our next meeting...and I really think they will be all for it.
                  As for that company charging people for access water,it would be a standard for those volunteer companies(like us) that must pay for our own water.
                  Will update later on this...

                  Donna C
                  Fire Chief
                  Bridge Canyon VFD


                  • #10
                    Our town taxes pay roughly $36,000/year for fire-protection water from the privately owned water company, neighboring Borough about $100,000. Fortunately after the last big increase in the mid-1990s the Towns involved got a regulatory change made to keep the rates from going up -- we're served by one of the largest private water systems in the state, and the formula meant for "mom & pop" water systems really skewed for us.

                    For comparison, we spend about $100,000 in fire department operations for the two departments in town, and amount essentially steady now for 13 years - partly because of new things like the water fees.
                    IACOJ Canine Officer


                    • #11
                      If setting a standard for usage it would make more sense (or at least some sense) to use the ISO standards as the usage standard. For example a typical single family house 2hr requirment of 1000gpm = 120000gal.

                      Typical price for bulk potable water from a pipeline in Iowa is $1.50/1000gal.


                      • #12
                        Great.........something else we got to hook up to the Hydrent.
                        I dont suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.


                        • #13
                          They do come up with some ......

                          Originally posted by WVFDCap
                          Politicians come up with some real winners in the ideas department don't they?
                          We had a councilman who wanted us to take our reserve ladder truck on false alarms. You know..It just might work
                          IACOJ Membership 2002

                          Mike IAFF

                          The beatings will continue until the morale improves


                          • #14
                            Its happening in Calgary too.

                            To create a new bylaw to allow the Fire Department to charge fees for service for select non-emergency services.

                            PREVIOUS COUNCIL DIRECTION
                            From Special Meeting of the S.P.C. on Community and Protective Services Revised Report CPS2002-74, Item #4, dated 2002 November 29:
                            “That the Administration be requested to prepare a report to Council through the S.P.C. on Community and Protective Services not later than 2003 September 30, on the implications of aggressively pursuing recovery of costs associated with attendance to:
                            i. Motor vehicle accidents on Provincial highways within the City of Calgary;
                            ii. Motor vehicle accidents occurring elsewhere in the City of Calgary;
                            iii. Construction and other sites in response to fire, environmental and other events normally responded to by the Fire Department.”
                            At the 2003 September 3 meeting of the S.P.C. on Community and Protective Services, the report was tabled until its 2003 October 8 regular meeting.


                            That the S.P.C. on Community and Protective Services recommend that Council:
                            1. Direct the Law Department to write a bylaw that will allow the Fire Department to charge fees for select non-emergency services.
                            2. Direct The City Clerk to attach the bylaw to this report when it appears at Council on 2003 November 3.
                            3. Give three readings to the new bylaw.


                            In its review of the current Fire Services Bylaw 37M84, the Fire Department identified a need for a new bylaw that would:
                            § reflect the updated City of Calgary organizational structure; and
                            § allow the Fire Department to introduce new fees for service and adjust rates for existing services.

                            The new bylaw will incorporate the rates and fees currently charged by the Fire Department as well as new proposed fees.
                            Rates and fees for service currently in place are cost recovery charges for permits, searches, out of city responses, business inspections, fire reports, and extraordinary expenses (see Attachment ). It is proposed that most of these fees will increase in 2004 to reflect the actual, current costs of providing those services.
                            Motor Vehicle Accidents

                            The Fire Department is currently part of a working group within the Alberta Fire Chiefs Association that is developing revised fees for use by all Alberta municipalities to recover costs associated with responding to motor vehicle accidents on provincial highways.
                            As part of its ISO 14001 registration, the Fire Department is required to ensure fluids considered potentially harmful to citizens and the environment are removed from roadways and prevented from entering storm sewers and waterways. The cost of this cleanup at accident scenes is currently not recovered from those involved.
                            Costs for traffic management services, which protect citizens and emergency responders assisting at the accident scene, are also currently covered by the mill rate.

                            The Fire Department responded to 4,363 motor vehicle accidents in 2002, which accounted for 11.3 per cent of total calls. In 2002, environmental cleanup at accidents accounted for 3.9 per cent of total call volume while traffic management services were 1.2 per cent of total call volume.

                            Under the new bylaw, vehicle owners involved in a motor vehicle accident would be charged a fee for cleanup and traffic management services (see Attachment ).

                            Response to Other Events

                            Currently, costs for responding to false alarms are covered by the mill rate. The new bylaw establishes cost recovery from property owners with systems that transmit preventable, repeated (three or more) false alarms.
                            Preventable false alarms are those that occur as a result of activities such as:
                            § the property owner failing to maintain the fire alarm or emergency system;
                            § the property owner failing to notify the Fire Department in advance of work conducted on a fire alarm or emergency system, resulting in work done on the system triggering an alarm;
                            § building activities such as construction or maintenance; or
                            § routing of signals from security alarm systems to the Fire Department.

                            In 2002, the Fire Department responded to 5,578 false alarms, which accounted for 14.5 per cent of total calls. Of these, 1,300, or 3.4 per cent of total calls, were repeat false alarms.

                            Under the new bylaw, property owners will not be charged for the first two false alarms in a calendar year, giving owners an opportunity to correct system issues. A progressive false alarm fee will be applied for all additional preventable false alarms within a calendar year (see Attachment 1).

                            Property owners assessed a fee for repeated false alarms may apply to the Fire Department within the calendar year for reimbursement up to a maximum of 50 per cent of the fee paid. Reimbursement will be provided if the property owner can provide documentation of repair costs associated with an active effort to improve system performance to reduce the likelihood of future false alarms.

                            Additional new fees related to cost recovery for occupancy and provincial inspections are identified and outlined in the Attachment .

                            A new bylaw that permits the Fire Department to charge fees for select services will:
                            § redirect costs associated with non-emergency services at motor vehicle accidents to the vehicle owner;
                            § reduce instances of false alarms;
                            § reduce the number of responding emergency vehicles, thereby reducing risk to citizens and firefighters;
                            § result in fewer instances of reduced emergency response coverage for other emergency calls; and
                            § reduce disruption and loss to businesses resulting from false alarms.

                            BUDGET IMPLICATIONS
                            The Fire Department has estimated fee cost recoveries of $500,000 in the proposed 2004 budget.

                            The City may incur additional costs associated with legal challenges from citizens or insurance companies regarding fees for attending motor vehicle accidents.

                            After implementation of false alarm fees, program effectiveness will be measured by the reduction in the number of repeat false alarms, which is expected to reduce the fee assessments generated in future years.

                            To implement rates and fees, the Fire Department will incur costs to administer the bylaw, communicate and educate property owners, and collect fees. The Fire Department will strive to cover these costs within its existing budget.


                            The Law Department has advised the Fire Department that legal challenges in other municipalities have been issued regarding charging fees for attending motor vehicle accidents.

                            Fees assessed against property owners for false alarms could potentially result in owners deferring calls to the Fire Department when a fire alarm is activated and the cause unknown.

                            Fees assessed against vehicle owners for fluid cleanups could potentially result in owners not calling the Fire Department in the instances of minor accidents where leaks from vehicles may still have occurred.

                            Fire Department Schedule of Rates and Fees

                            Nuisance false alarms
                            (no charge levied for first two false alarms in a calendar year)
                            Third false alarm $250*
                            Fourth false alarm $250*
                            Fifth or more false alarm $500*
                            *For false alarms within same calendar year

                            Security alarms routed to Fire Department
                            $500 per call

                            Motor vehicle accident – environmental cleanup
                            $150 per call

                            Motor vehicle accident – traffic management
                            $250 per call


                            Under Standing Policy Committees / Recent Agendas / CPS Oct. 8/2003
                            September 11th - Never Forget

                            I respect firefighters and emergency workers worldwide. Thank you for what you do.

                            IACOJ CRUSTY CONVENTION CHAIR
                            Honorary Flatlander

                            RAY WAS HERE FIRST


                            • #15
                              To give a different response to this issue, but recently we had huge bush fires in Victoria, Australia (Not that uncommon! ), but a lot of our farmers pay for water to use on their properties for irrigation.

                              As we were in drought, a heap of them offered their water that they paid for, which the Country Fire Authority gladly took and used.

                              That's fine, but last I heard, the farmers were still not getting any form of compensation from the State Government for the water that was used! So we now have farmers that were not making much money with the drought to begin with. they offered their water to assist the firefighting efforts to protect their own and other properties, and the no one is willing to reimburse them....


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