Savoy Fire Department considers charging for non-emergency calls

October 4, 2023
Emergency Call Centre Dispatch

Savoy village set to vote on non-emergency service fees

In a move to better manage resources and alleviate strain on staff, the Savoy Fire Department in Central Illinois is contemplating the introduction of fees for specific non-emergency services.

The proposed fee structure pertains particularly to non-emergency calls from assisted living facilities within Savoy village, mainly those requiring lift assistance.

A report from WCIA reveals that the department has attended over 100 such calls this year, a figure they intend to regulate in the upcoming year.

Village President John Brown remarked: “The Savoy Fire Department has already responded to over 100 of these non-emergency calls this year.” The village aims to bring down this number in 2024.

Equipment and staffing concerns prompt decision

Eddie Bain, the department’s Public Information Officer, highlighted several factors that led to this proposed change.

He mentioned: “We’d like to keep that equipment 100% available for emergency responses.”

Bain continued to stress the changing nature of their services saying: “We just don’t run the fires anymore. There’s all kinds of emergency services that we provide.”

Many of these services, according to Bain, necessitate specialized equipment, personnel, and continuous training, all of which require substantial backing.

To lessen the burden on its firefighters, the village is pushing for the introduction of these fees.

Should the ordinance be approved, Savoy will join neighboring fire departments, such as Champaign and Rantoul.

These departments already have a fee structure in place, charging between $300 to $400 for lift assist calls. Savoy currently operates on a paid call system.

Village President Brown indicated that many of the firefighters have other primary professions. He pointed out: “Firefighters have to come from home, many times in the middle of the night, to respond.”

Brown believes that by curbing the number of calls, the department can minimize stress on these firefighters. If the calls persist, the fees collected will help offset the village’s expenses for attending to them.

FSJA Comment

The Savoy Fire Department’s consideration to introduce fees for non-emergency calls is indicative of a larger trend seen across fire departments.

Resource allocation and ensuring that equipment and personnel are readily available for genuine emergencies is paramount.

Additionally, with many firefighters juggling their roles alongside other full-time professions, it becomes crucial to strike a balance.

Fee structures, as seen in other Central Illinois departments, can act as both a deterrent for non-essential calls and a method to cover associated costs.

The situation in Savoy serves as a reminder for communities and fire departments everywhere to continually assess and adapt their strategies for the safety and well-being of both residents and firefighters.

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