Tell your friends visiting from out of town to make sure they drive safely. The city’s budget trouble has prompted the fire department to look into charging non-residents for showing up at an accident ($450), putting out a car fire ($720), or extracting trapped drivers from their vehicles ($1,220). Don’t worry. If you’re just unconscious, and all the fire fighters have to do is open the door, you’ll be charged at the basic rate of $450. It’s not completely unfair. Non-residents will have to be at-fault in order to get a bill from the city. The City Administrator thinks this will bring in around $33,000 a month to the city’s general fund.
Oakland will have to share the proceeds with Fire Recovery, USA. That’s the company that will handle the billing and all the “customers,” who will not be happy to learn that they owe the city of Oakland for services rendered. Oakland residents who need help from OFD after drinking or using drugs will also have to pay up. Oakland City Council will vote on the new fees at its meeting next week.
It could be worse. Tracy in San Joaquin County is charging for 911 calls, and the small burg of Maywood near LA has essentially given up trying to provide basic services.
For the moment, the Oakland Fire Department will rescue stuck cats at no charge.