Provo has begun collecting a $500 service fee for every structure fire put out by fire-fighters, but city officials maintain residents won't be burned.
The City Council, which enacted the fee last week, said the source of the money will be insurance companies, most of which already pay up to $1,000 directly to fire departments for emergency responses. Officials say other cities have been tapping the resource for years."If they're going to pay it, if they're willing to pay for it, there's no reason for us not to get it," said Provo Fire Chief Rod Jones.
The new fee is just one of several imposed by the council last week to raise an estimated $100,000 for new firefighters and a new fire station. Virtually everyone using fire department services, from schools to hospitals, will be affected.
Provo firefighters responded to more than 5,000 fire calls last year, but 96 turned out to be actual structure fires.
Assuming 10 percent of those owners didn't have insurance, and another third were unable to pay, the city would still have collected $29,000.
Other fees adopted by the City Council include $200 for extrication of accident victims trapped in vehicles, $200 for vehicle fires, $100 for providing backup at car accidents and cleanup of hazardous spills, and $200 an hour while assisting outside agencies in toxic cleanups.
A number of non-emergency fees also were imposed.
Local child-care providers requiring fire department inspections for state subsidies for meals served to children will be billed $25. Schools, gas stations and other businesses producing, storing or using hazardous materials also will have to ante up. Some, like Brigham Young University and Utah Valley Regional Medical Center, will pay $175 for an annual permit.