Running a fire department is not cheap, even when the labor is entirely volunteer.
An ordinance being prepared by Bridgeville Borough Council would allow the community’s fire department to seek reimbursement for the cost of responding to calls involving commercial buildings and vehicles.
The fire department already works with a company that seeks reimbursement from auto insurers following accidents.
“This ordinance addresses the commercial end,” said fire chief Bill Chilleo. “Pennsylvania requires [an ordinance]. If we don’t have that, we can’t bill for our services.”
It’s becoming increasingly common in Pennsylvania for fire departments to seek reimbursement where possible, typically when there is an insurance company involved.
“It only gets billed to people with insurance,” Chilleo said. “We’re not going after any individual owners of a business without insurance.”
Some municipalities have laws that specifically limit collection efforts to insured losses, said borough solicitor Thomas McDermott, who will write a draft Bridgeville’s ordinance and present it to council at a future meeting.
Last week, council unanimously authorized McDermott to create that draft ordinance:
A motion of the Borough Council authorizing Solicitor McDermott to research and prepare an ordinance authorizing the Bridgeville Volunteer Fire Department to obtain reimbursement for the cost of materials expended and services rendered in fighting fires and rendering emergency rescue services. Remarks: The proposed ordinance will be provided to Council for review prior to requesting authorization to advertise.