New billing policy could aid Denver Fire Company

By on February 1, 2012

By: KIMBERLY MARSELAS Review Correspondent, Staff Writer

Denver Fire Company is considering a new billing policy that would allow emergency crews to recoup some costs for public assistance.

At a meeting Monday night, new fire company leaders asked Denver Borough Council to consider an ordinance backing the department’s plans to bill for emergency responses. Captain John Weaver explained that the department would charge insurance companies for equipment and supply costs, but fees would not be passed on to individuals.

"We’re finding it necessary to do anything we can to bring in money," Weaver said, noting that an agency hired by the department would bill insurance companies using pre-determined costs.

Among the items the fire company might bill for include "stay-dry" powder applied to oil slicks after a car accident or hourly use of the "Jaws of Life." The department would not charge for man-hours.

Weaver said many insurance policies purchased by individuals already cover such payments, but they have not been collected in Denver previously.

‘If you put in for it, you’re going to get it," he said. "If you don’t ask, you can’t receive."

Borough manager Mike Hession said he would review similar ordinances in other municipalities and bring the issue before council at a future meeting.

Fire department officials also asked council to consider offsetting costs for more than 20 hand-held radios that will be needed when countywide emergency crews switch to a new, high-frequency system in 2013. While the radios needed for Denver’s front-line trucks will be largely covered by grant funding, the cost for portable devices will have to be absorbed by local agencies.

"That could be a substantial amount," said assistant chief Robert Gensemer.

Though the borough previously established a fund to assist with the purchase of radios, the county’s transition took so long that the money was instead committed to the purchase of new fire apparatus.

Treasurer Larry Hummer said the department does have some money in savings but that buying all of the radios without financial help "would probably exhaust all of that."

Also Monday night, borough officials heard from Allan Meckley and Dan Burkholder of St. John’s United Church of Christ. The men represent a committee considering purchasing a dilapidated house in the borough to be renovated for a Homes for Hope program.

St. John’s and other members of the Cocalico Ministerium are looking for a new home to serve families in transition. The group has used a donated house to serve families in transition over the last two years.

While members are interested in rehabbing a house at 521 Poplar Street that has been accepted into a county redevelopment program, the costs may be too high. Hession said the borough has been notified that it’s potential costs to reclaim the property will be about $31,000. Council had said previously that it did not wish to take on the house if it would be at a cost to the taxpayers.

But paying the $31,000, an estimated $46,000 for mold removal and thousands more for renovations, may make the property too expensive for Homes for Hope.

Council asked Meckley and Burkholder to keep in touch with them as the county finalizes it costs and Denver considers its next steps.

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