City considers charging for fire emergency services

Tyler
Tyler Clarke
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Fire Marque representative Chris Carrier gives a presentation to city council at Monday’s meeting, during which he noted that they stand to make a potential added revenue of $63,000 by going with his company’s services. 

Although the city is considering the implications of charging a user fee for fire emergency services, they do not anticipate it costing property owners a dime.

 

It’s about tapping into currently untapped insurance policy coverage that the city is already entitled to, Fire Marque representative Chris Carrier told the city’s elected officials at Monday’s city council meeting.

“If you go home tonight and check your insurance policy for your residence or your business, you will see within the additional coverage section that fire department service charges, fire department expense is in the coverage,” he told council.

“As a level of government, you pass a bylaw, that is the legal key to unlock that contract, accessing the monies within that policy for your fire department.”

Using figures from the city’s 2013 fire services budget, Carrier said that the city stands to bring in about $63,000 from insurance providers -- a low-end projection, he added.  

Fire Marque is an Ontario-based business that takes care of getting fire emergency services coverage money out of insurance providers.

On a quarterly basis, the company returns 70 per cent of the gross funds they get from insurance providers to municipalities and retain 30 per cent.

Although the city’s elected officials appeared receptive to bringing in untapped insurance money, it’s the 30 per cent fee to Fire Marque that might prove a hard sell.

“What stops fire departments from finding out the properties that are affected, where their policies are from, and then charging those fees back directly to their insurance policies?” Scharkowski asked.

If you go home tonight and check your insurance policy for your residence or your business, you will see within the additional coverage section that fire department service charges, fire department expense is in the coverage. Chris Carrier

“It’s a little more complex than just invoicing,” Carrier answered.

Pulling aside a common downtown fixture -- a commercial property with residential rental properties above – Carrier notes that in some cases the city can be dealing with several insurance policies at the same time.

“The one-off house you might be able to handle in the future, but those more complex files, which in an urban environment you’re going to see on a more regular basis, is better handled by the professionals, with all due respect,” he said.

Coun. Martin Ring motioned to have the city fire, finance and legal departments look over Fire Marque’s services to see if it’s a good fit for Prince Albert.

The City of Moose Jaw entered into a three-year contract with Fire Marque earlier this year -- an agreement expected to bring in about $50,000 of revenue per year.

“It almost seems too good to be true that something’s come out of the woodwork and there’s a way for us to recover some costs,” City of Moose Jaw Coun. Dawn Luhning said at the time.

The City of North Battleford also has an agreement with Fire Marques, with the balance of the company’s clients in Ontario and Alberta.

Organizations: Fire Marques, Prince Albert

Geographic location: Moose Jaw, Moose Jaw Coun, North Battleford Ontario Alberta

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