charges for non-emergency call outs £412.80 per hour

West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) will have a more robust process for charging for call outs to non-emergency incidents with effect from Monday 14 May 2012.

The change comes into place following revision of the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004 which came into force on 18 February 2012 and sets new guidelines and freedoms for fire authorities on charging for services carried out by fire and rescue services.

As a result of this change in legislation, WMFS will now challenge all requests for non-emergency assistance, outlining the approximate cost of attendance to the customer, who will then be asked to confirm whether or not they wish to proceed with a brigade response.

Watch Commander Wesley Williams from WMFS’ Emergency Response Team explained, “We must ensure that genuine emergencies, which require the use of our specialist resources, receive a priority response.

“People call 999 and ask us to attend incidents when there is clearly no emergency, risk of danger, or threat to life; and we are not explicitly funded to do this”

The types of non-emergency incidents which callers often request WMFS to attend include lock outs, animal rescues, clearance of debris and the removal of flood water. In most cases, these types of incident should be dealt with by the appropriate service provider, tradesperson, or landlord.

Anyone requesting non-emergency assistance will now be advised that they will be expected to cover the call out and attendance costs. This is calculated on a cost recovery basis which is currently £412.80 including VAT, per fire appliance/specialist vehicle, per hour.

WMFS has a statutory duty to effectively respond to fires, road traffic collisions and other emergencies and it is vital that it prioritises these core functions of its businesses.

Vij Randeniya, Chief Fire Officer said, “We have made no secret of the financial difficulties we are currently facing and with potential funding cuts of up to £30 million, it is clear we have to prioritise our resources.

“I am committed to ensuring that the people of the West Midlands receive the best possible service from us, and I hope they will support us by only using 999 for genuine emergencies”.

Details can be found here