Longmeadow Volunteer Fire Company Billing Policy

            The Longmeadow Volunteer Fire Company has with much debate, deliberation, and reluctance adopted a billing policy effective January 1, 2005. The policy is similar to all ambulance companies within the county as well as several other fire departments. The need for billing is simply a matter of economics. We do receive donations from the community via our annual mail out fund drive. For this we are extremely grateful and hope this will continue. Every dollar of support to us is appreciated.  However, we find that the percentage of contributors as well as the amount of money received has remained stagnant despite the increase in both development in our area as well as the added call volume that goes along with this development. Additional funding is derived from gaming receipts distributed by the county. This money is not guaranteed and is only a small percentage of our budget. Washington County, unlike other Maryland counties (Montgomery, Price George, Howard, Frederick) does not have a fire tax. The county allocation to us has remained constant for ten years despite increased financial obligations. We have been very aggressive, and through hard work successful, at obtaining federal, state and local grants as well.

            What do we spend our money on? Within the past 5 years we have purchased three new emergency vehicles. This may seem excessive until looked at closely. We replaced a 25 year old ladder truck with a new ladder truck which also has pumping capabilities which the other did not. This truck is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to put out fires, make rescues from burning buildings, and yes if necessary get the cat out of the tree. We also replaced a 22 year old fire engine with a new 2005 rescue engine. Again, we added an additional service to our area which did not exist before. We now carry rescue equipment similar to the Jaws of Life. With the increasing number of accidents on our roadways, we felt compelled to add this life saving equipment. The final piece of equipment is a command vehicle. OSHA requires that all major incidents (fires, accidents etc.) have a command post. We complied with this by purchasing a vehicle for our duty officer to use. The cost of the ladder truck fully equipped is over $600,000. The rescue engine including the new rescue equipment was over $350,000. Please feel free to stop by and inspect these pieces and see for yourself that they are worth every penny and do not contain any fringe benefits like stereos, etc.

            Here is what we do not spend our money on. We do not buy members any tee shirts, sweatshirts, pants, etc. The pager that we carry to alert us to your emergency is purchased by each member individually without any company money. The dress uniform used at funerals and parades in purchased by a combination of the member as well as the company. If you stop by our station you will see beautiful, well maintained equipment housed in an old building. We do not have a lot for members within the station. We as a company feel our mission is to protect the citizens of our area which is why we have placed apparatus and equipment purchases above these other items.

            The billing program grew out of these financial realities. We would like to stress that no call will go unanswered for financial reasons. No person will be denied service based on past contributions. The firefighters that arrive at your emergency will most likely have no idea if you contribute to our fund drive. The billing program is administered by a few members and in no way can be used to influence our primary mission which is to protect life and property. The program is very simple. It is outlined below along with the rate structure. The rate structure is one agreed upon by several other departments within Washington County.  Please contact the station for any questions you may have.

 

 

Call for assistance is answered:

1.      If the call resulted in a loss which would be covered by homeowners or vehicle insurance (house fire, auto accident, car fire, flooding, shed/garage fire, industrial accident etc.) our billing company will make a claim to the insurance agency. If this claim is denied, the billing company will send the owner a bill only if this person has not contributed to the annual fund drive. If they have contributed this year the matter is done. If the person not contributing does not pay the bill, a collection agency will be notified after second and third notices have been sent.

2.      For those calls which do not result in a loss that could be assessed to an insurance agency (fire alarms, smell of smoke with nothing found, outside fires, etc.) those contributing to the fund drive will not receive anything. Those choosing not to contribute will be sent a bill. If payment is not received, second and third notices will be sent and then a collection agency will be notified.

Rate schedule:

Fire Suppression Rate 1:  $500 Car fires, small fires up to 2 hours
Fire Suppression Rate 2:  $1000 Structure fires up to 2 hours
Rescue Rate 1:  $300 MVC without using rescue tools
Rescue Rate 2:  $750 MVC involving extrication from the crash
Hazmat 1:  $300 Spills less than 10 gallons requiring applying absorbent
Hazmat 2:  $750 Spills over 10 gallons requiring applying absorbent
Service Call1:  $50 Flooding, etc. lasting less than 30 minutes
Service Call 2:  $250 Longer than 30 minutes but less than 2 hours
Automatic Fire Alarm 1:  $100 Cancelled prior to response
Automatic Fire Alarm 2:  $300 Arrived and investigate
Hourly Rate Over 2 hours applies ($150 - 250) depending on incident type and equipment used