"Anytime we can find another means to make any kind of money, or recupe some money it's gonna be a benefit to our taxpayers and our department" said Willows Fire Chief Wayne Peabody. When accidents occur the small Willows Fire Department is ready and willing to respond, however incidents caused by visiting citizens take a toll on the department and it's resources and in the long run local taxpayers end up paying for it. Now after a newly passed city ordinance, a fee will be charged to out-of-towner's insurance companies when fire department services and equipment are needed.
"This is one mechanism which will finally allow us to recover some of those expenses directly related to the accidents" said Willows City Manager Steve Holsinger. The city is working with Fire Recovery USA which aids in billing insurance companies and collecting fees. Fees will range from 275 dollars per hour for an investigation team to 400 dollars per hour per engine and 500 per hour per truck. The company will take 20% of all fees for it's services, the remainder will go directly to the City of Willows to be allocated to fire services for both rural and city departments. It is expected to generate five to ten thousand dollars annually.
"By no means is this going to be a money maker or a budget offsetting mechanism, this is just basically to recover bare minimum cost of equipment and or personal costs to responding to these incidents" said Fire Chief Peabody. Fire Recovery USA assists dozens of California Fire Departments each year in collecting fees. The City of Willows hopes in joining this program, some pressure will be taken off it's local taxpayers.