The North Bend Eagle

 

NBFD to change billing policy

by Nathan Arneal
Published 6/20/18

Having your house catch on fire in North Bend just got more affordable.

At its quarterly meeting this month, the North Bend Rural Fire Protection District Board voted to change the way it bills patrons for fire calls.

Starting in 2014, the fire board adopted a policy to bill property owners for fire calls. Soon people were getting bills for upwards of $5,000 after the North Bend Fire Department was called. One patron at the meeting said she received a bill for $1,900 after a grass fire.

With an estimated 35 to 40 people attending the June 6 meeting, many expressing displeasure with the billing policy, the board went into executive session to discuss the issue.

When the meeting was opened back up, the board voted 4-0 (with one member absent) to change the policy.

“We’re just basically going to insurance companies,” board member Brian Kloke said. “If they aren’t going to pay it, it’ll be dropped.”

The NBFD will collect insurance information during a call, and the bill will be sent to the insurance company. The department will collect whatever the insurance company pays and will no longer hold the fire victim responsible for the remaining balance.

Following the vote, the Board held its annual meeting, where Pat Tawney was voted onto the Board. He was elected president, replacing Duane Ellermeier.

Tawney, 53, began his fire fighting career in North Bend in 1986. For the past 26 years he has been a member of the Fremont Fire Department, where he serves as a captain. He and his family moved back to North Bend two years ago.

Tawney supports the change in billing policy. He said many fire departments do not bill at all for fire calls, but those that do – including Fremont – have a policy similar to North Bend’s new policy.

 

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