There will be no billing for fire calls within the Manawa Fire District.
Whether to bill or not to bill for fire calls was discussed by the Manawa Rural Fire and Ambulance Board at its Jan. 21 meeting.
The final decision was not to pursue billing for any fire calls.
In order to bill $500 for each fire call, townships would need an ordinance in place, according to Board Secretary Jackie Beyer.
“It is not considered double taxing when somebody benefits directly from something that is a shared tax,” she explained.
Beyer noted, however, that the Manawa Rural Fire Department would not be able to bill for vehicle fires on the highway, but they could charge for structure fires and for certain forest fires.
“Do we really need money that bad that we need to start charging?” she asked.
It was noted that charging for billable calls would only generate about $1,500 annually.
The MRFD responds to an average of three structural fires per year, according to Fire Chief Rob Rosenau. And, in a typical month, they have about five calls.
“Anytime the jaws are used, it’s billable,” Rosenau said, “but it would be better to bill it through the ambulance service.”
The Manawa Ambulance Service already has a billing structure, with the billing serviced through LifeQuest, which takes out a percentage.
New fire truck update
Specifications for the new fire truck should be completed within the next four to five weeks, according to Fire Chief Rob Rosenau. He expects to have a recommendation prepared for the board’s March meeting.
Although he is a member of the committee, Rosenau assured the board that he will not be voting when the Fire Truck Committee decides on the final purchase of a truck. He said it would be a conflict of interest because he is employed at one of the businesses being allowed to bid on the truck.
“I get paid if they sell a truck here or if they don’t sell a truck here,” he said.
Rosenau explained that sealed bids will be taken from three different local manufacturers of fire trucks. He noted that area taxpayers work at all three of these locations.
The board discussed payment options for the new truck, and comparing loan rates with lease programs.
Rosenau suggested that the board check the rates prior to the truck being ordered, or they could ask for financing options to be included with the sealed bids.
Beyer reported that the MRFD has received a $3,300 fine for not filing W-2s in 2010. She hopes to negotiate a reduction with the Internal Revenue Service.
“I don’t want to let it sit because it might affect financing of our new truck,” she said.
The board also discussed pay rates for MRFD personnel. Rosenau noted that the firefighters get $13 per hour for meetings and training.
The fire department responded to 12 calls since Nov. 1, 2013, including providing mutual aid for a barn fire near Clintonville.
Two new firefighters are ready to begin duty, and will soon begin state certification classes with three others.
The Manawa Ambulance Service staff presented goals to enhance its service in 2014.
Their goals included improving quality of care, maintaining proficiency in skills, plus tracking response and scene times.
The ambulance service plans to implement National Incident of Management Services (NIMS) training to help with disaster preparedness and to hold EMS refresher courses in March and April, with monthly training to follow.
Recent additions to the ambulance staff include the return of Glen Bunnell and the addition of two EMTs – Paramedic Dave Tichinel and IV Tech Mae Lou McCourt.
The ambulance service had a total of 291 calls in 2013, including 53 standbys.
The breakdown per municipality (without standbys and out of area calls) included: Manawa 120, Little Wolf 36, Union 30, Royalton 20, St. Lawrence 19, Lebanon 7.
The next meeting of the Manawa Rural Fire and Ambulance Board will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 18.