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Fire chief has his eyes on fees that have gone uncollected

Farmington fire chief Jim Larsen has discovered what he called “a host of fees” the fire department had become lax on collecting over the years. He hopes to change that.

He made the city council aware of his findings at Monday night’s work session. No decisions were made by council at that meeting.

“We’re not looking to make money,” Larsen said. “I’m trying to support the fire department budget, which is taking a hit because of this.”

Along with ordinances already on the books, Larsen would like to add the following: Raise fireworks community event permit to $100, raise open burning fees to $30, charge $200 for the fourth false alarm call to an occupancy, add a $75 fee for second or additional inspections of commercial cooking vents, and increase explosive sales and storage fee to $100 a year.

He also requested the elimination of the permit fee for recreational fires.

Larsen noted that the fire department often does much of the work at an accident scene, but other groups, such as tow truck companies, get reimbursed from the insurance companies.

“Towing companies have historically charged for clean-up fees. In almost every case, we have done this already before their arrival,” he said.

He proposed a flat fee of $150 for vehicles or drivers of non-residents and a $500 fee for extrication responses and vehicle fires belonging to non-residents.

“If a Farmington resident has an accident, we’re not going to bill you for it,” he said.

Farmington residents would only be charged for fire and rescue help if the fire was a malicious act, such as arson or any other illegal activity.

Larsen said another problem has been elderly residents wanting the fire department to take them to scheduled doctor’s appointments and then asking the department to drive them home afterward.

“A scheduled doctor’s appointment is not an emergency,” he said. “We have one location in Farmington that has called us nearly 100 times in the past three years. These responses have cost the city nearly $4,000 in wages alone through June 8, 2015.”

Larsen would like those types of calls to end, but if they persist, he proposed a $100 fee per response.

Finally, Larsen would like to require a fee for the temporary use of LP gas, something often used on construction projects, and a $200 annual fee for fire code inspections.

The city council will discuss the chief’s proposal again in October before voting on it in a future city council meeting.