YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – On Wednesday, Youngstown City Council will consider allowing the fire department to charge for certain services.
The services listed are runs related to hazardous materials, building and trench collapses, arsons and lift assistance.
Youngstown Fire Chief John O’Neill says the department will not be charging a fee to fight fires, car accidents or other routine calls.
“That is what we do, and that is what taxpayers are paying for,” he said.
The Youngstown Fire Department would have to be on the scene for at least 30 minutes to charge. The fees would include $425 dollars an hour for a ladder truck, $350 dollars an hour for a pumper, and the use of firefighters would be at their actual hourly or overtime rate.
According to O’Neill, the fire department goes out on an average of 3,000 calls each year. Over the last year, 87 of those calls were for wires down, and 38 of those calls resulted in firefighters being out for more than an hour. In addition, firefighters assisted paramedics in 66 calls, many of which are non-emergencies.
O’Neill said it is becoming problematic to have the fire department’s resources tied up for hours at a time.
“They need to provide their own resources first. They can’t just depend on us to come do that for them when they’re the ones charging and receiving funds for that,” he said.
He said other communities already have legislation in the books to establish fees for things like HAZMAT calls.
Chip Comstock, attorney and chief of the Poland Fire Department, said he advises other area departments and while few others charge for service locally, there are problems everywhere.
“What we typically struggle with is, you know, what are emergencies and many times, fire departments have to prioritize those calls,” he said.
O’Neill hopes the measure will ensure his people can answer the call when they’re needed.
Council will consider the measure during its regularly scheduled council meeting on Wednesday, October 5 at 5:30 p.m.