Protest held against Denison fire response fees

DENISON, Tex. (KXII) - Several people in Denison spent Friday afternoon protesting the fire department fees approved this week by the city that gives the city permission to bill insurance companies.

Denison residents protested newly approved Denison Fire Department response fees Friday afternoon.

“One person has to stand up to make other people stand up,” said protest organizer Mike Arbuckle.

Arbuckle organized a protest Friday afternoon against the recently approved Denison Fire Rescue fees allowing the city to collect money to cover their cost of responding to crashes, fires or hazmat incidents.

“I mean we already pay taxes. I mean we’re already taxed as taxed can be. We have high property taxes in Texas. We have high taxes for the schools, I mean money, money, money,” Arbuckle said.

Denison City Manager Jud Rex says even with the allotted budget from property taxes to fund the department, it still doesn’t cover all of the public safety functions, which is where the ordinance comes in.

According to city documents, a car fire costs close to $700. If equipment is used to rescue someone from the car, that adds around $1,500. An extreme hazmat situation using breathing air and detection equipment and robot deployment is more than $6,000.

When there’s a house fire and the fire department responds, the homeowner’s insurance company would get a bill. Firetrucks would be billed at $560 per hour and fire engines another $448.

“I believe the firefighters and the EMTs, they do their jobs. They’re public servants,” Arbuckle said.

If the insurance company won’t pay, Rex says the city won’t collect from city residents.

The ordinance says “In some circumstances, the responsible party will be billed directly.” Rex says that refers to instances where a non-resident of Denison is responsible. An example given was crashes on U.S. Highway 75.

“Make a voice. If you don’t like something, start going to these meeting. If you don’t believe in something, tell them you don’t believe in it. Don’t just sit there and be quiet or nothing’s ever going to change,” Arbuckle said.

Rex encourages anyone with questions to call the city.

A town hall meeting about revitalizing Denison neighborhoods is scheduled for Feb. 13. Representatives of the fire department will be there to answer any questions.