Olean Fire Department Chief John W. Gibbons is proposing methods to reimburse the city for the cost of fighting arsons and to retrieve enough money from emergency medical service calls to buy a new ambulance every three years.
"The Fire Department is the second highest generator of revenue in the city," Gibbons told aldermen attending the Tuesday night meeting of the Fire/Buildings and EMS Committee.
The most revenue comes from the sale of garbage stickers he added.
The committee consented to Gibbons' plan to bill arson defendants for costs of firefighting and investigations. The costs may then be awarded to the city as a victim by the court in a conviction, or the city could file a civil action to collect costs.
Currently the department attaches a portion of a homeowner's insurance policy to pay for fire fighting, he said.
According to Gibbons, nine arsonists have been convicted in the city over the past six or seven years, with three more cases still open and without enough evidence for a conviction.
He said statewide legislation for a similar billing procedure has been introduced in the State Legislature.
Billing for the cost of ambulance mileage and oxygen will also begin to generate an estimated minimum monthly average of $2,600. Gibbons calculated between $94,000 and $135,000 in revenues could be realized within a three-year period, enough to replace one ambulance.
He requested the money be placed in a dedicated enterprise fund for that purpose and said he plans to apply for a change in Medicare rates to reflect what the city is collecting.
A general work session for the Common Council scheduled for 8 p.m. was canceled.
In other business, the committee:
Postponed discussion about numerous requests to the Fire Department during power outages for small generators to help oxygen-dependent residents. Gibbons told aldermen during power failures Niagara Mohawk tells residents to call the Fire Department for this service.
Decided to write legislation requiring addresses at newly constructed dwellings to be approved by the 911 coordinator.
Will request the Common Council add the Fire Department to a Department of Public Works measure now under consideration to provide credit cards to employees to simplify gasoline, parts and travel expense purchases.