Piedmont Fire Dept. considers charging fees

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To victim’s insurance company

By Stan Welch

The Piedmont Public Service Commission met Monday night (June 16) and unanimously approved the budget for the upcoming year. The budget is balanced and involves no fee or millage increases. The commissioners also heard a proposal concerning establishing a schedule of fees to be charged for certain services.

The fire fighting aspects of the department’s role would continue to be provided at no additional charge; but for the responses to major traffic accidents, requiring such services as extrication, containment and cleanup of hazardous materials, or operations requiring heavy or specialized equipment, a set schedule of fees would be established, and charged to the victim’s insurance company.

The fee schedule presented for the Commission’s consideration reflects charges currently being levied by more than a dozen Greenville county departments, as well as the Wren and West Pelzer Fire Departments in Anderson County.

Piedmont Fire Chief Tracy Wallace explained that such charges are made against the victim’s insurance company, and not the individual.

“These fees are something the auto insurance industry is accustomed to, and the company that does the billing and collection assured us that in no case is the individual billed or pursued in order to collect payment. If their insurance doesn’t include this kind of reimbursement, then that’s that. The department will eat the cost, like we do now.” said Wallace.

Assistant Chief Craig Lawless added that the fees are intended to recoup the costs of using such special equipment. “We wouldn’t do this just for directing traffic at some fender bender, but if we have to extricate someone from their car, or medevac them, or perform hazmat procedures, the costs can rise. This would help us defray those costs.”

A resolution establishing the fee schedule would be required, but following the raising of several concerns about the propriety of charging for the services, as well as other details of the proposal, the matter was tabled while Wallace and Lawless gather more information.