City of Minnetonka Decides to Charge for All Fire Calls
The city of Minnetonka recently warned home and business owners that any call that comes into the Minnetonka Fire Department will result in a service fee of $250.
“Our fire department has a general duty to respond to emergencies that occur within the city,” says Minnetonka Fire Department Chief Joe Wallin. “Fire alarm systems with central station service are a contract between a private party and a vendor, resulting in a service being performed by an uncompensated third party – the Minnetonka Fire Department. This level of services constitutes ‘special duty,’ which is not available to everyone unless they contract with a private alarm company.”
According to Wallin, the fire department receives a portion or all of its operating capital on the basis of calls made and services rendered to the community at large.
“Because the Minnetonka Fire Department is primarily a paid-on-call department, there are definite costs associated with each call for service, in contrast to a full-time department which has a fixed payroll cost whether responding to calls or not,” concluded Chief Wallin.
According to the city, the fee does not apply to general 911 calls, alarm calls where the first notification of the alarm is a 911 call from the property itself, or alarm calls originated by an automatic fire sprinkler system. The $250 service fee reflects the cost incurred by the fire department when they response to a fire alarm. If the alarm turns out to be valid, the fire chief can waive the fee.
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