The Titusville Fire Department is floating a proposal that looks like a win-win-win situation for the department, for the city of Titusville and for its residents. Assistant Fire Chief Joe Lamey talked with members of Titusville City Council Tuesday night about employing the services of a third party billing agent to recover the cost to the city of providing for the manpower and equipment at fire scenes and motor vehicle accidents.
Currently, by ordinance the city bills a flat $500 fee to the homeowner or accident victim who in turn submits the bill to insurance carriers. Lamey explained there are provisions and clauses employed by the insurance carriers resulting in that fee not being paid out to the city. Consequently, the city collects very little in the way of recovery costs after a fire or a crash. Similar situations have been experienced by similar city fire departments in Meadville and Oil City.
City manager Larry Manross says the recovery fee would be directed to the general fund of the city but could be funneled to the fire department.
The Titusville Fire Department is moving forward in contracting the services of Fire Recovery Services of McCungie, Pennsylvania to increase significantly collection of recovery costs for tools, materials, turnout gear, manpower and the like. The Meadville and Oil City Fire Departments already employ the services of Fire Recovery Services. Lamey reports the company uses an itemized fee schedule resulting in a 45 percent recovery rate. The company collects 15 percent of the recovery if recovery is made during the first six months after the event. Thirty five percent thereafter. Lamey says insurers have less wiggle room to reject recovery costs with an itemized list of costs.
Homeowners would never see a bill and the company is not a collection agency according to Lamey. The fire departments could actually save insurers from more and larger payouts.
There is a 60 day written termination clause and the city would have to amend its own fee schedule, but Lamey says Fire Recovery Services will work with the city on fees. Recovery services would only apply to fire and rescue calls. The company would collect information from the fire and accident victims and an A plus Better Business Bureau rating.