By Brian Maass

AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – Faced with revenue shortfalls, the Aurora Fire Department is planning to charge members of the public new fees in 2021 for responding to car accidents, 911 medical calls and fire code inspections. The new fees are included in Aurora’s new 2021 budget which was approved by City Council on Oct. 19. The fees will go into effect next year, although a precise date has not yet been determined.

(credit: CBS)

According to an email sent to Aurora Fire Rescue members this week from Chief Fernando Gray, “Most departments provided cuts to services to meet this challenge, but Aurora Fire Rescue instead focused our efforts on cost recovery options.”

The department says a “treat-no-transport fee” should raise about $450,000 per year by charging citizens who call 911 for medical assistance, but are subsequently not transported to a hospital.

Gray wrote that “A treat-no-transport fee is intended to recover costs for Emergency Medical Service (EMS) patients that call 911, receive treatment from AFR, but do not need hospital transport.”

In 2019, the department said there were 34,685 EMS calls with 5,148 patients receiving treatment without hospital transport. The department plans to charge those 911 callers who were not transported $175 under the new fee structure.

Sherri-Jo Stowell, a spokesperson for the Aurora Fire Department, declined to be interviewed on camera but said in a written statement, “These service fees are not unique in the Fire/EMS industry, and other national and regional providers already use fees to recoup costs.”

(credit: CBS)

One Aurora City Councilmember expressed concerns that citizens might be hesitant to call 911 if they know there will be an additional financial cost, but he said he believes these types of fees have not discouraged calls for service in other municipalities.

Another new fee will affect drivers involved in vehicle accidents in Aurora. The fire department responds to about 3,000 crashes every year where they provide patient care, dispose of waste products on scene and ensure scene safety. The department currently does all that without additional charges. But they will now institute a “scene mitigation fee” which will recover costs associated with responding to and cleaning up motor vehicle accidents.

The department estimates it costs them $520 per hour to respond to accidents. Gray wrote “The fee involves requiring individuals to pay a motor vehicle collision or vehicle fire ‘cleanup fee.'”

Aurora residents, who are involved in 70% of the accidents, would be exempted from the new fee, which is estimated to recover about $375,000 per year.

While the fire department has said it believes insurance carriers for vehicle drivers will pick up these costs, Carole Walker with the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association challenged that assertion.

“This really is a ‘crash tax,'” said Walker. “They’re something we all pay taxes for and it’s not
something covered by a standard auto insurance policy. It puts the driver in the middle.”

The final new fee will be for initial building fire inspections, which currently carry no fee. The department says it plans to develop a fee schedule in 2021 based on occupancy types and square footage, hoping to raise an additional $337,500.

Stowell told CBS4 with the trio of new fees “A waiver program will be included to ensure that we meet the needs of those experiencing financial hardship.” She said the process that arrived at the new fees included input from various stakeholders like a Citizen Advisory Budget Committee and a Business Advisory Board.

Brian Maass

Comments (11)
  1. Warren Bennett says:

    The fees that the Aurora Fire Department intends to charge the people who somehow end up with the Aurora Fire Department near them, are scandalous. This entire, national fire service movement is scandalous. The (organized (Union, politician bedfellows) fire hacks have the public convinced that their services are necessary. Short of fighting an occasional fire (they are few and far between, and were reduced by 80-90% by modern day building code, and life safety systems, there are few to no fires to fight), BUT, the fire service of America, maintains ludicrous staffing levels, performing functions that create the impression that they are necessary, but they are hardly that. I bet the ambulance service could be privatized in Aurora, by a company like American Medical Response/Global Medical Response, in a zero bid contract, leaving the city with no cost to operate their ambulance/EMS, and the city could enjoy a gigantic cost savings. What do you suppose the chances are that the city looked at that, in lieu of their ridiculous fees? Now, how necessary do you think it is, that the fire department respond to 70% of the car crashes that they respond to? Do you think the public works department could clean up debris for less money? The citizens of Aurora are having the wool pulled over their heard by their fire department, and the city leaders are too stupid to recognize that.

    1. carlton says:

      You obviously are ignorant of the duties of the fire service. Less than 3% of the calls in Aurora are for fires. Who do think cuts people out of mangled cars at wrecks. or responds to cardiac arrests, child births, heart attacks. The fire department does safety inspections and the firefighters all take part in public education to schools and adult groups.
      For your information the ambulance service in Aurora is privatized under contract to Faulk ambulance service.

  2. Bob says:

    Aurora is a dump and anybody with the ability is moving out. They are broke, and it will get worse – nobody in their right mind will spend a dime there.

  3. Steve in Aurora says:

    The City of Aurora continues to give me reasons to move out of the city and never come back. The police don’t/won’t enforce the law and get the criminals off the streets. All policing is reactive. Arapahoe County Jail won’t take anyone with less than a $10,000 bond. There is no enforcing of traffic laws for speeding, careless or reckless driving. Pick any night, and you can hear the motorcycles and cars literally racing on Chambers, Buckley, Hampden and other streets. During the summer you hear fireworks all night long, starting right after Memorial Day and past 4th of July.

  4. TruePatriot says:

    AH HA HA … Aurora is a poophole . Just like San Freaksico and New Yawk City !

  5. COperspective says:

    The City of Aurora has the power of initiative. They should use it to rescind this fee, and include a penalty to discourage City Council from future temptation to sneak in revenue increases without voter approval. For instance, SHALL VOTERS RESCIND ANY AND ALL FEES LEVIED ON BEHALF OF THE FIRE DEPARTMENT AND GOING FORWARD, REQUIRE VOTER APPROVAL FOR ANY AND ALL FUTURE FEES TO FUND BASIC CITY SERVICES, INCLUDING TRASH COLLECTION, POLICE, FIRE, STREET PAVING AND OTHER BASIC CITY SERVICES CURRENTLY BEING PAID FOR WITH CITY TAX COLLECTIONS?

  6. Clifford Farris says:

    Next step is to implement the San Francisco model where they criminally charge 911 callers if the caller is deemed—in San Francisco’s sole opinion (the city that elects Nancy Pelosi regularly)—that the call is a hate call. Hate call is not a legally defined term. It is whatever the city wants it to be at the moment.

  7. mildmannered1 says:

    My paramedic kid discourages callers from being transported if they don’t need it.

    Kid is being paid anyway, so running a non-transport call doesn’t incur hardly any expense.

  8. Carlton Loomis says:

    I am a retired Aurora Firefighter who served for over twenty-five years. These fees are absurd and should be protested by every resident. I doubt if any other metropolitan department in Colorado is charging any similar fees. Your sales and property taxes are designed to fund city services like police, fire, streets and more.
    Back in the mid eighties Aurora was the first city in America to charge businesses a hazardous material audit fee. If you had a pre-school with a bottle of clorox you paid a fee. If you had a large warehouse with many hazardous chemicals you paid a large fee. Many businesses left the city over this and it was soon dropped.
    Aurora is virtually the only agency in the front range that does not have an ambulance service provided directly by the city. This could be a huge source of revenue for the fire department. It was looked at in the nineties and the chief at that time pushed hard for it but city council was not in favor of it. Contact your council person and left them know how wrong this is.

  9. Non-Aurora Resident says:

    It says they won’t charge Aurora residents the crash tax, but if that means if an Aurora driver hits me, they will charge me for the cleanup, that is BS! I see a bunch of lawsuits in the future and Aurora will end up spending more in court and lawyer fees than whatever the crash fees would have generated.

  10. WS Boyle says:

    I guess that increasing property tax to fund city services by 100% last year was not satisfactory for tax hungry city services. So if I have an accident in my car or a severe injury I will not call for city services that they tax my property for. The illegals that drag race through my neighborhood have just been given the ok to do as they please. Being 70 years old this just means that my days are numbered. BTW I have never seen the fire department clean up an accident scene in my 65 years of living in Aurora. They just leave the broken glass and mangled car parts in the road to cause damage to other cars and maybe cause another accident when someone tries to avoid the mess.

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