Newport Fire Department utilizing new program to help with vehicle accident clean up costs

Haley Parnell
Haley Parnell
Haley is a reporter for LINK nky. Email her at [email protected]

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The Newport City Commission voted Monday night to execute a services agreement with Fire Recovery USA regarding billing services for the Newport Fire Department.

This service agreement will allow the fire department to bill insurance companies for cleanup jobs during accidents they weren’t previously charging for, ultimately bringing in more money for the department.

What does Fire Recovery USA do?

According to its website, they are a cost-recovery company serving fire and emergency medical service (EMS) departments across the country. They specialize in recovering the cost of fire department responses for motor vehicle crashes and maximizing dollars collected per trip on EMS transport.

This new system will be for accidents involving vehicles. According to Newport Fire Chief Frank Peluso Jr., the department has not charged for certain cleanup items in the past; they have only charged for using an ambulance.

He described the department’s cleanup process when an accident occurs.

“We clean up, and once the vehicles are gone, we clean up even more,” Peluso said. “The last thing we do is we stay on the scene, and we’ll provide a barrier for the police officers on scene. Our vehicles are a little bit bigger, and they work a little better to stop moving vehicles. So that fuel while our vehicles run, our personnel cost anything we use to clean up. If we’ve got a hazmat spill, and we’ve got to clean it up, that’s all billable at a different rate.”

This service agreement will also go toward things like vehicle fires or if the department has to cut someone out of a car. Peluso Jr. said this increased rate would help them replace tools when they go bad.

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This bill will go to the insurance company of the people involved in the accidents with full coverage insurance. Then the fire department will be reimbursed by the insurance company.

Fire Recovery USA charges a flat rate of 20%, so for every dollar spent, they get 20 cents, and the fire department gets 80 cents. The fire department has to include vehicle information in the accident report and then send it out to the company, and they take care of contacting the insurance agencies.

“Our auto extrication equipment is battery powered, and they’re powered by Milwaukee batteries,” Peluso Jr. said. “If you have a cordless tool, you know how expensive those are. These are even bigger. These batteries are about $600 apiece. So the more money coming in for those things will make the replacement much easier.”

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