Wreck Your Car in the Big Apple, Get a Big Bill From the Fire Department

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New York City may soon start charging motorists up to $500 if the fire department shows up at the scene of a traffic accident. Other cities are already doing something similar. More fallout from driving municipal budgets into a ditch?

New York City is joining a list of municipalities that charge motorists who use the services of the fire department after a traffic accident. According to this article in the Wall Street Journal

A vehicle fire or any other incident with injuries will cost $490. A vehicle fire without injuries will cost $415. And incidents without fire or injuries will cost $365.

These charges apply to every vehicle involved in the incident.

“We want to relieve pressure on the taxpayer and place it on those at fault and their insurance,” said Steve Ritea, a spokesman for the FDNY. “Right now if you’re at fault at an accident or a vehicle fire, you get a free ride. And that should not be borne by the taxpayers.”

If approved, the FDNY fee will go into effect on July 1. The practice of charging those involved in traffic accidents isn’t widespread. According to the WSJ article, 55 cities in California charge similar fees and 20 more are considering it. There are some cities that also charge a fee for firemen showing up at house fires, although that’s not something currently under consideration in New York.

It’s unclear why cities are charging when the fire department shows up for a wreck, but not under seemingly similar circumstances, such as when the police show up to a crime scene. Nor is there any mention of overall tax cuts that should result when expenses are shifted from the city’s population to individual taxpayers.  New Yorkers probably shouldn’t hold their breath for that…

Stacy Johnson

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