Hartford Fire Department to Charge Insurers for Emergency Services

April 7, 2006

Fire protection and medical help remains free, but the Hartford Fire Department will soon be charging insurers for other emergency services it provides.

The department, in the next week or so, will begin billing insurance companies for certain situations such as getting people out of crushed vehicles and handling hazardous material spills.

“We do have the funds to provide fire protection,” Fire Chief Charles Teale Sr. said . “But there’s not enough money to do (extrications and hazardous materials) safely and effectively.”

Teale said the department is planning to charge between $350 and $750, depending on the type of emergency call.

Teale said the billing plan has the support of the City Council and other cities such as New London and Bridgeport have also begun billing for some emergency responses.

“We’ll try to work with the insurance companies, but never will an individual be approached,” Teale said.

An executive with the American Insurance Association, David Snyder, said the practice is unfair to motorists already paying taxes.

“This raises profound questions for taxpayers as to what their tax dollars go for. If they don’t go for essential services, what is their money being spent on?” Snyder said.

In 2005, city firefighters responded to 37 accidents on I-91 and I-84, according to department records. Hartford’s tactical rescue unit, which is equipped to perform extrications and hazardous material cleanups, went on more than 4,500 calls alone in 2005, Teale said.


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