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Madison County may charge for Jaws of Life

A piece of legislation could prevent fire departments from billing you for using the Jaws of Life. Now local fire officials are trying to stop that bill from passing.

For three years the Madison County Fire Department has been defending their stance that they should have the right to bill people. Today they’re still fighting. Lobbyists with the auto insurance industry recently supported another bill.

“We are maintaining our stance that local government should be the ones that decide whether or not a department can charge for automobile extrication or not,” said Corey Child, fire chief of Madison County Fire Department.

On Friday Childs took a trip to Boise to defend his stance. He said if this legislation is passed it could have an effect on fire departments in small towns.

“If we’re not able to bill for it in the future, we may not get the funding to purchase the equipment, and pay for the man hours to go out and get the service,” said Corey Child.

Right now, if you get into a car accident in Madison County and need to be extricated the fire department doesn’t bill you. Child said that is because they’re using extra funding to pay for it.

“Nothing in our tax dollars says we’re allowed to do automobile extrication with that tax money,” said Child.

But some locals can’t get past the fact they shouldn’t be billed.

“Our tax dollars goes to pay for the fire department, so part of me says they should be able to do it for me. I mean, I’m paying the taxes to run the fire department,” said Madison Reynolds.

Child said they’re trying to work with the insurance industry.

“We recommend each year that they make automobile extrication a part of their policy. They either include it or exclude it,” he said.

The majority of people already pay for it in their insurance policy, which is why the insurance industry and fire departments are going head-to-head.

All of Madison County’s elected officials were at the meeting in Boise and said they were in agreement with the fire department.

Insurance service lobbyists have submitted proposed legislation to lawmakers to be considered in January or February. Along with the Madison County Fire Department, the Idaho Fire Chiefs Association and Association of Idaho Cities are fighting to prevent the legislation.

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