What Should the Charge Be for Outside Fire Aid?

What Should the Charge Be for Outside Fire Aid?

Replies to Questionnaire on Subject—Remarkably Few Charge for Service-System of Mutual Response—Some Interesting Answers

THE question of receiving aid from neighboring cities and towns has for some time been a live issue among fire department officials. It is probably true that there are but few departments which will refuse to assist another in a time of trouble. The officials of a number of departments which are frequently called upon to render outside aid feel that it is an unnecessary burden, the protection to those who pay to maintain the department is reduced and the efficiency of the department is decreased.

In several sections of the country where municipalities adjoin or are near together the matter of outside aid has been well worked out in a system of mutual response and covering in of vacated houses for large fires. This system has been well developed in the New England states, to some extent in California and in two Kansas cities.

For some time there has been considerable discussion as to the advisability of charging for aid rendered to neighboring cities by fire departments. A short time ago FIRE AND WATER ENGINEERING sent a questionnaire out and received answers from five department officials in 114 cities, all over 50,000 population.

Only Twenty-six Cities Make Charge.

The answers showed that a charge is made in only 26 cities, a surprisingly small number. Five cities making no charge stated that they believed in reciprocity and Chief Seyferlich said: “Chicago got outside help in her hour of need in 1871. I wonder if we paid.” Jacksonville, Florida, follows the “Golden Rule” and six cities accept donations for the pension fund.

Where a charge is made it varies from $75.00 per hour for each piece of apparatus furnished to $5.00 for each apparatus and an hourly rate for each man, based on each man’s pay. One city makes a yearlycharge of $1.00 for each $1,000 valuation of improved property on the tax duplicate. Additional charges are also made for loss or damage to equipment. Several cities require a deposit up to $300 to cover expenses.

Associate Editor, FIRE AND WATER ENGINEERING. Formerly for 13 years with Nat. Board of Fire Underwriters.

In most cases the charge is fixed by ordinance or resolution and in only a few cases was an explanation given as to how the charge was arrived at. The fixed charge of $350 in Cleveland, Ohio, is determined by dividing the annual cost of maintenance In the annual number of alarms. The county furnishes one punqier to Dallas, Texas, and the department provides protection to the county in return. In most cases the charge appears to he an arbitrary one. Cities which have only a few calls per year do not as a rule believe it practical to make a charge.

In answer to Question 4. fourteen cities which nowmake no charge report that they are planning to do so or recommendations have been made for that purpose.

Affirmative Answers to Question No. 5.

Another surprising result in the answers was the number, 55, of affirmative answers to Question 5 and also the positiveness with which it was given. This opinion was well expressed by one prominent chief who said: “We also find they fail to give assistance, but

stand by and criticise our acts—as a rule they are not only lax in maintaining their own fire fighting facilities, but fail to heed advice and recommendations that will give better protection.”

Under comments of Question 6, where mutual aid arrangements are provided for no charge is made, many chiefs believe that a charge should be made and others have found that when a charge is made the number of outside calls is reduced.

Where municipalities are so located that aid can be given within 30 minutes, a well developed system of mutual assistance is much worth while. In many cases where a city has an insufficient number of companies, the outside aid available is of considerable value in reducing this deficiency. The Standard Schedule for Grading Cities and Towns in use by the various underwriters organizations gives credit for outside aid properly arranged for.

On the following page will be found a tabulated summary of the replies received to the questionnaire arranged according to the questions asked.

“The answers to the questionnaire showed that a charge is made in only 26 cities, a surprisingly small number. In most cases the charge is fixed by ordinance or resolution and in only a few was an explanation given as to how the charge was arrived at. Where municipalities are so located that aid can be given within 30 minutes, a well developed system of mutual assistance is much worth while.”

METHODS OF CHARGING FOR OUTSIDE FIRE AID—SUMMARY OF QUESTIONNAIRE

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