Bridgeport City Council to consider establishing fire dept. cost recovery fees

Published: Jan. 20, 2023 at 1:16 PM EST
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This article comes from our media partners at Connect Bridgeport.

BRIDGEPORT, W.Va (WDTV) - A new venture for the City of Bridgeport and the Fire Department will be considered for approval at Monday’s Council meeting with the first reading of an ordinance that would establish Fire Department cost recovery fees.

In 2018, state legislation was passed to permit County Commissions to authorize volunteer and paid fire departments within the County to charge fees up to $1,500 for personnel and equipment used in firefighting services, victim rescue and the cleanup of debris and hazardous material.

Harrison County capped the fee that fire departments in the county can charge at $500 with exceptions made for incidents or accidents involving hazardous materials or extended search and rescue and water rescue incidents. The City of Clarksburg enacted its ordinance for recovery fees last October.

If passed, a portion of the Bridgeport Fire Department’s costs would be recovered through charges for personnel and equipment from insurance companies related to their insured’s incident or accident that caused the Fire Department’s response. Any costs recovered will lower the amount of funds from the general fund that are required to operate the Fire Department.

“I didn’t know anything about it until last year when Clarksburg was just putting it through,” City Manager Brian Newton said. “I found about it and said that’s something we should probably do. These are fees that would be paid by the insurance company. It specifically says that if the person we are taking to the hospital doesn’t have insurance then we don’t charge.

“This is where the causer is the payer (specifically, their insurance provider). The person who is causing us to incur the expense is now responsible for helping us pay for the expense. It takes some of the burden off of the taxpayer and puts it on more to the people using the service.”

Newton said the $500 cap is something that could be increased down the road once cities have enough time under the proposed plan to see how effective it is.