Crash response

One of Napoleon’s fire engines was among the vehicles that responded to this crash in April on U.S. Route 24 near County Road 17. A city committee is considering whether to recommend if the department should start charging a fee for such responses.

The Napoleon Safety and Human Resources Committee once again discussed the possibility of the fire department charging a fee when it responds to vehicle crashes.

Napoleon Fire Chief Clayton O’Brien discussed the fee Monday night. He presented numbers from 2015 to 2019 showing the fire department responds to between 74 and 86 vehicle crashes each year.

He said the crashes require a certain amount of personnel and fire apparatus to respond to, including a fire engine. In fact, in 2017, he stated it is the city’s policy to respond to crashes with an engine.

The fee proposed would be $500 to $750, depending on the type and severity of the accident, such as whether hazardous material is involved.

The billing on the fee was referred to as “soft,” meaning the motorist who is at fault in the accident would have their insurance billed and if they are a resident of the city, the department will accept whatever amount their insurance company agrees to pay. Any balance left over would be cleared.

A non-resident may be billed the entire amount. However, that remains to be decided. Officials also need to figure out what to do if a non-resident who works in the city and pays income tax gets into an accident.

O’Brien said, based on the crash information, should the fee be instituted he thinks it could generate around $40,000 in revenue. However, that would depend on how many crashes occur in a year.

“I don’t want to be the department that is always looking to charge a fee, but there are expenses involved in responding to these and we have to be creative in ways to generate revenue,” O’Brien said.

City Manager Joel Mazur added the fee would not just be about generating revenue, but he considers it a way to cover the cost of doing business for the department.

There was also some doubt as to whether most insurances would cover the fee. O’Brien said he tried to check but could not get an answer. Committee member Jeff Comadoll suggested he check with the Ohio Department of Insurance.

The committee tabled the issue until its January meeting so more information could be obtained.

The issue was last brought up in August of 2017. After discussion, the committee at that time recommended the fee as part of a series of new fees and adjustments on others, but council voted the vehicle crash fee down.

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I started at the Northwest Signal in 1994 and became editor in 2004. I graduated from Bowling Green State University in 1994.

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