WEST virginia Legislature
2018 regular session
Senate Bill 49
By Senators Boso, Woelfel, Cline and Maroney
10, 2018; Referred
to the Committee on Government Organization]
A BILL to amend and reenact §7-1-3d of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended; and to amend and reenact §7-17-12 of said code, all relating to funding sources for fire companies and departments; modifying procedures for county commissions to authorize reasonable fees charged for fire department or fire company response to fires or other calls for assistance; providing for reasonable reimbursement fees for fire services and the means to be used for calculating and charging fees for responding to fires or other calls for assistance; providing that an insurance company shall not be deemed liable for payment of reimbursement fees for fire services where coverage is limited or excluded by an insurance contract; modifying the maximum fee that may be charged for responding to any single incident involving certain property and material types; prohibiting fire company or fire department from seeking reimbursement where the property is assessed a fire service levy or fire service fee; and modifying procedures for increasing a county fire service fee by a county commission.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
ARTICLE 1. COUNTY COMMISSIONS GENERALLY.
§7-1-3d. Levy for, establishment and operation of fire prevention units; financial aid.
(a) The county commission in any county may levy for and
may erect, maintain and operate fire stations and fire prevention units and
equipment therefor in the county: Provided, That if a county commission
establishes a separate fire protection unit in any
in West Virginia that is now operating under the provisions of the state Civil
Service Act for paid fire departments, then the new unit shall be operated in
accordance with the provisions of the Civil Service Act.
(b) Any county commission may render financial aid to any one or more public fire protection facilities in operation in the county for the general benefit of the public in the prevention of fires.
(c) Any county commission may
also authorize volunteer
fire companies or paid fire departments,
as authorized by the West Virginia State Fire Marshal, to charge reasonable reimbursement fees for personnel
and equipment used in performing firefighting services functions, victim rescue or cleanup of debris or hazardous
materials by department personnel or
such other service as authorized by the Fire Marshal. The rate
for any such fees to be charged to real
or personal property owners or other
persons responsible or liable for payment for such services must shall
be approved and established by
ordinance by the county commission. Nothing
in this section may deem an insurance company liable for payment for the
services where coverage is limited or excluded by an insurance contract.
fees for services rendered by the fire company or fire department must be reasonable: Provided, however,
That no the total fee for responding
to any single incident involving a residential property or any single accident shall may not
exceed $500, or the maximum amount of insurance coverage allowed under any
applicable insurance contract, whichever is greater, except an incident or
accident involving hazardous materials or a fire incident at a nonresidential use property or
(e) The county commission shall require that any fees charged pursuant to the authority conferred by this section must be in writing and be itemized by specific services rendered and the rate for each service, and may include fees of equipment and personnel responding with the first due fire company or fire department by any and all mutual aid fire companies or fire departments, subject to subsection (d) of this section.
(f) Reimbursement rates and fees authorized in this section shall be calculated as follows:
(1) The fee rate per hour, or one-half hour portion thereof, for motor-powered firefighting apparatus shall be based on the fully equipped apparatus based on the type of motor-powered firefighting apparatus, including future anticipated replacement cost of the motor-powered apparatus on a twenty-year replacement basis and a reasonable allowance for accounting.
(2) The fee rate per hour, or one-half hour increment portion thereof, for firefighters shall be based upon a firefighter fully equipped with personal protective equipment consisting of helmet, hood, gloves, bunker coat, bunker pants, boots, personal light and personal self-contained breathing apparatus and spare bottle, including future anticipated replacement cost on a ten-year basis, and may include cost of remuneration, insurance, workers’ compensation protection and a reasonable allowance for accounting.
(3) The actual cost of replacing hoses, tools, equipment, sustenance provisions or dispensable supplies used, damaged or lost in the course of answering the call for assistance. Hose, tools or equipment damaged in the course of answering the call for assistance shall be retained for a period of not less than six months following the date of loss to permit review, appraisal and adjustment by possible insurers answering the claim for reimbursement.
(4) The time basis for calculating the total fee for a specific motor-powered firefighting apparatus commences at the time the apparatus initiates response, as recorded by the emergency dispatch center, and concludes at that time the apparatus leaves, or clears, from the scene of the accident or incident.
(5) The time basis for calculating the total fee for firefighters responding to the incident scene commences at the time the first apparatus for the respective fire company or fire department initiates response to the call for assistance and concludes at that time the last firefighting apparatus leaves, or clears, from the scene of the accident or incident as reported to and recorded by the emergency dispatch center of the county.
(g) The county commission may not authorize, and the fire company or fire department may not assess, reimbursement for any services rendered in response to a call for assistance to a property that: (1) Has been previously assessed for fire service fees, whether as established by a county commission or by a municipality, and the assessed fire service fees are not delinquent; or (2) is situated in a county where a fire protection levy was authorized by election of the voters and is in effect.
ARTICLE 17. COUNTY FIRE BOARDS.
§7-17-12. County fire service fees; petition; election; dedication; and increase.
(a) Every county commission which provides fire
protection services has plenary power and authority to provide by ordinance for
the continuance or improvement of such service, to make regulations with
respect thereto and to impose by ordinance, upon the users of such services,
reasonable fire service rates, fees and charges to be collected in the manner
specified in the ordinance. However, before a county commission can impose by
ordinance, upon the users of such service, a reasonable fire service fee, ten percent
of the qualified voters shall present a petition duly signed by them in their
own handwriting and filed with the clerk of the county commission directing
that the county commission impose such a fee. The county commission shall not
have a lien on any property as security for payments due under the ordinance.
Any ordinance enacted under the provisions of this section shall be published
as a Class II legal advertisement in compliance with the provisions of §59-3-1 et
seq. of this code and the publication area for
such the publication
shall be the county in which the county fire board is located. In the event
thirty percent of the qualified voters of the county by petition duly signed by
them in their own handwriting and filed with the clerk of the county commission
within forty-five days after the expiration of such the publication
protest against such the ordinance as enacted or amended, the
ordinance may not become effective until it is ratified by a majority of the
legal votes cast thereon by the qualified voters of such the county
at any primary, general or special election as the county commission directs.
Voting thereon may not take place until after notice of the submission has been
given by publication as above provided for the publication of the ordinance
after it is adopted.
(b) The powers and authority hereby granted to county commissions are in addition to and supplemental to the powers and authority otherwise granted to them by other provisions of this code.
(c) Any fees imposed under this article are dedicated to the county fire board for the purposes provided in this article.
In the event If the county fire board
determines an increase in any such fee imposed by this section is
necessary, it the county fire
board shall by resolution request the
county commission for such an increase. Procedures set forth in this section
for the initial levy of such a fee shall be followed by the county commission
in the event an increase is sought. the county fire board shall, by
resolution, request the county commission for such an increase. Procedures set
forth in this section for the initial levy of such a fee shall be followed by
the county commission in the event an increase is sought The county
commission shall, at the next scheduled meeting of the county commission,
proffer an ordinance and set the date and time for a public hearing for
purposes of receiving comment regarding the proposed increase in fees. The
public hearing shall be conducted within the thirty-day period following the county
commission meeting following the first reading of the ordinance. The first
reading of the ordinance may be by title. The public hearing shall be
conducted to receive public comment regarding the proposed increase in fees
proposed in the proffered ordinance. Notice of the proffered ordinance and
public hearing shall be announced by publication of a Class I legal
advertisement in compliance with the provisions of §59-3-1 et seq. of
this code and the publication area for the publication shall be the county in
which the county fire board is located. The county commission shall adopt the
ordinance establishing the fire service fees, without revision, at the meeting
next following the second reading of the ordinance. The second reading may be
by reading the title only, unless requested to be read in its entirety.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to allow fire companies or fire departments to assess fees to reimburse the fire company or fire department responding to calls for assistance when: the property is not within a county having a fire levy; or, the property is assessed the county’s or municipality’s fire service fee and the fire service fee is not delinquent. The bill establishes the basis for calculating the rates for reimbursing the fire company or fire department for: services provided or tools, equipment or dispensable items used, damaged or lost while providing response to a call for assistance.
Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from a heading or the present law and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.