Del. counties may charge fees for fire, ambulance services under new bill
If passed, the bill would allow state counties to charge a "fire protection fee" to help bridge the funding gap of additional paid staff
By Sarah Roebuck
CLAYMONT, De. — As fire and EMS agencies across the country battle to reach hiring capacity, Delaware is looking for a way to keep emergency services going.
Most fire stations in While most Delaware fire departments have been based on the volunteer model, except for Wilmington, over time many have evolved and adopted a hybrid model of paid and volunteer workers, WDEL reports.
To help bridge the funding gap with the increased cost of more paid staff, HB127 would give counties the option of creating a "fire protection fee."
"We provide a critical service to the public, the residents and the transients going through Delaware, and we don't have the manpower. Not crying poormouth, but we don't get enough funding to pay for staffing," Tom DiCristofaro, president of the Claymont Fire Company and 2nd vice president of the Delaware Volunteer Firefighters Association, told WDEL.
The bill doesn't have a set limit on a fee or require a county to charge a fee, but the money collected must be separate from the general fund. According to the bill, it also can only be used by fire companies for fire and ambulance protection and save a 5% administration fee.
Of the total estimated 1,041,200 firefighters across the country, 65% are volunteer firefighters, according to the National Volunteer Fire Council. It's the lowest number of volunteers since the organization started reporting in 1984.