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CLARIFICATION: Peoria fire chief talks real numbers for billable services

PEORIA - Fire officials are clearing the air when it comes to speculation on their latest move to bill people for auto accidents. Peoria Fire Chief Ed Olehy says they are not charging people when they respond to fires or emergency services. 

"The city of Peoria is not going to bill for any fires at your house," said Chief Ed Olehy, Peoria Fire Department.

Peoria Fire Chief Ed Olehy is clarifying a recent proposal heading to Peoria City Council Tuesday about billable charges for Peoria and non-Peoria residents. 

"Peoria for years has already been billing outside residents for auto extracations and car fires," said the chief. "That's been apart of our services for a long time."

These billable services are for car accidents like a car fire, which would be about $687/hr.
An extraction would be just under $1,500/hr. 
All of these services would be billed to your insurance. 

"Insurances already factor this in," said Chief Olehy. "All of the rates that we've chosen, through Fire Recovery, they're national rates. They're tried and true and insurance companies are reasonable and customary, all of those things. So, they fit all of the insurance criteria already."

Peoria Fire Department has chosen to go with a third-party company called Fire Recovery to handle the billing and claims. Chief Olehy says Peoria is following the lead of several other major cities in the state, like Naperville.

"[Fire Recovery] sent me five different references from the state of Illinois," said the chief. "So there's five big cities that are already doing it at least, we know there's more than that. there's some surrounding communites that already do it. they bill in different fashions but you're being billed for services."

Chief Olehy said this concept will help the department re-coup costs.

"People need to understand that they're paying this in their premiums as it is today, if it's part of their premium," said Chief Olehy. "So either the insurance company keeps it, or they pay it back to the fire department through the type of billing. It's not uncommon to happen."

Here's a look at the corrected paper that Peoria city council members will see on Tuesday. This was given to WMBD by Chief Olehy on Friday.

We reached out to the Illinois Insurance Association for their thoughts on the issue. Here's what Kevin Martin, Executive Director of Illiois Insurance Association said about the billable services: 

“This is nothing more than an attempt by the city of Peoria to charge a hidden tax on everyone who is unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident in Peoria.

This has been attempted in other municipalities in Illinois and after careful review of the effect of this ordinance on law abiding citizens it has been soundly rejected.

Also, when this tax has been approved in other states throughout the nation it has been repealed time and time again.

Also, the citizens residing in the Peoria area should NOT be mislead by believing all insurance companies will pay for these costs!  Very few insurance companies will reimburse the policyholder for these expenses, thus they will pay for the costs out of their own pockets.

These costs should be paid out of the ever increasing property taxes that people already must pay!!"


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