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Fire fighting services within the Rural Municipality of Corman Park are provided on a contract basis by the urban municipalities within the R.M. corporate boundaries. Compensation is provided to those departments on an annual basis through a retainer fee for capital purchases, as well as a fee for service for calls responded to. The current rate for response is indexed to the SGI provincial rate, at $937 per hour, with each fire service providing response at the same rate. The cost for service is billed to the R.M., then invoiced to the landowner of the property of which the fire commenced, or to the individual responsible for starting the fire.
The R.M. has provided regular communication with past invoice amounts to encourage ratepayers to purchase private fire fighting insurance to minimize personal cost, however a number of instances have arisen where large incidents occurred and insurance was not present, or insurance was not adequate. In response to questions of how much insurance is recommended to be purchased, and concerns raised with unknown amounts of risk, Council has recently made a change to limit invoice amounts for any one fire to $30,000 so long as certain conditions are met.
When requirements under the Fire Services Bylaw are followed, such as not purposefully lighting a fire during a fire ban and reporting controlled burns where required, the invoice provided to any one landowner for each incident will now be a maximum of $30,000. The R.M. will then be responsible for covering the excess cost of services received from the fire department. The advantage of this type of system is that landowners will be able to insure to set amounts and limit their risk in the event of fire, with the cost ultimately being shared amongst all ratepayers through taxation.
This change was effective September 30, 2019 with the passing of Fire Services Bylaw 37/19, which reflects these changes, with wording with Section 8 of the Bylaw now reading as follows:
SECTION 8. FIRE PROTECTION CHARGES
8.1 Upon Fire Protection Services being provided on a parcel of land within the Municipality’s boundaries, the Municipality may, in its sole and absolute discretion, invoice Fire Protection Charges to any or all of the following persons, namely:
a) the person or persons causing or contributing to the fire; or
b) the owner or occupant of the parcel of land;
All persons charged are jointly and severally liable for payment of the Fire Protection Charges to the Municipality.
8.2 Notwithstanding any other provision herein, the Municipality shall be responsible for firefighting charges where a response occurs to a Controlled Burn on municipal lands that was properly reported under the provision of this Bylaw or where a response is deemed to be a false alarm.
8.3 Excepting where contraventions of this Bylaw have occurred, including, but not limited to burning during a Fire Ban, Fire Protection Charges shall be charged to a maximum of $30,000 per person and/or property per incident.
8.4 Fire Protection Charges shall be paid within sixty (60) days of receipt.
8.5 Collection of unpaid Fire Protection Charges may be undertaken by civil action in a court of competent jurisdiction, and any civil action does not invalidate any lien which the Municipality is entitled to on the parcel of land in respect of which the indebtedness is incurred.
8.6 The Municipality may add to the tax roll of the parcel of land all unpaid Fire Protection Charges in accordance with The Municipalities Act.
If there are any questions or concerns please contact the R.M. office at (306) 242-9303, and please visit the R.M. website at www.rmcormanpark.ca for a full copy of the bylaw.