City council sets Fire Department extrication fees

Published 10:19 am Tuesday, November 22, 2011

City Council members voted Monday night to approve a number of fees relating to the fire department, including an auto extrication fee.

The minimum $250 auto extrication fee passed on a vote of 5-2 with council members Brian McAlister and Steve King dissenting. Other fees that were approved include a $100 permit fee for freestanding, temporary fireworks companies and a $100 fee for businesses with more than two false alarms each year.

Fire Chief Mickey Healey said at a previous meeting that the false alarm fee will affect people whose alarms frequently malfunction without repair from the owner. If someone calls the fire department because of smoke that doesn’t turn out to be a fire, it would not be considered a false alarm.

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The fireworks fee would also help ensure the legality of fireworks being sold in town, Healey said.

King voiced his disapproval of the fees, saying they can be a slippery slope when citizens are already funding services with their taxes.

Healey said most auto extrications are performed after car accidents on State Highway 218 or Interstate 90 where few victims are citizens of Austin, and therefore are not paying for the service with their taxes.

“We’re just trying to be as fair as we can to everybody involved,” Healey said.

Healey said most people won’t need to pay for the extrication out of pocket. Auto extrication expenses are generally covered in insurance plans, at least up to the limit of the individual policy.

City Council also voted to approve an increase in the cost of a ticket for a snow emergency violation from $10 to $25.