A recent Global News article about a Beaver County homeowner absorbing partial costs to costs for a property fire has prompted Lac Ste. Anne County Fire Services to clarify its fire response cost recovery policy.
The County’s current Fire Services Bylaw and portions of the Municipal Government Act govern the cost recovery for services rendered in an emergency, including fire suppression, and motor vehicle collisions (but excluding medical responses). However, Lac Ste. Anne County does seek cost recovery for fire services rendered on scenes. The Fire Bylaw states:
10.3 Where Fire Services has taken any action whatsoever for extinguishing a fire or responding to an Incident within the County for the purpose of preserving life or property from injury or destruction by fire or other Incident, including any such action taken by the Fire Services on a False Alarm, the County may, in respect of any costs incurred by the Fire Services in taking such action, charge any costs so incurred by Fire Services to:
a) The Person who caused the Incident;
b) The Owner of the land or the Person in possession of the land where the Incident occurred; or
c) The Owner of the Property where the Person in possession and control of the property which is the location of the Incident if not located
on privately owned land.
10.4 The incident response rates to be charged by Fire Services for services rendered pursuant to this Bylaw shall be as set out in Schedule “B”. The County
Fire Chief, or designate, upon approval and ratification by Council, may determine the application of fees and charges from time to time.
10.5 Upon receipt of an invoice for services provided by Fire Services, the Owner or Person receiving such an invoice pursuant to this Bylaw may appeal in written
form to County Council within 30 days of the post-mark date.
10.6 Appeals may extend beyond the 30 days stated as a result of insurance matters or other matters deemed acceptable by the County Fire Chief, or designate,
and will be reviewed on an individual basis as required.
10.7 In respect of the incident response rates described in Schedule “B” of this Bylaw:
a) The County may recover such incident response rates as a debt and owing to the County; or
b) In the case of action taken by Fire Services in respect of land within the County, where the incident response rates are not paid upon demand by the County, then in default
of payment, such incident response rates may be charged against the land as a lien in respect of that land and improvements as pursuant to Section 553 (1) of the Municipal Government Act, R.S.A. 2000, c. M-26.
Further, the County's Fire Emergency Response Cost Recovery Policy outlines how cost recovery takes place. As noted in Clause 5 of this Policy, the County does not seek full cost recovery on each response; rather, the resources used are considered and adjusted to limit costs back to the property owner on what is likely one of the worst days of their lives.
Insurance Coverage and Wildland Fire Riders
County Council and Lac Ste. Anne County Fire Services encourage ratepayers to have in-depth discussions with their insurance agents regarding fire insurance for insurable losses, as well as consideration for wildland fire riders for larger properties to assist with coverage in the case of a wildfire on your property. As well, Fire Services will work with area landowners on FireSmarting their properties, with insurance companies offering discounts for properties that have been assessed. Both Intact and Co-operators Insurance participate in this program, with more looking at the potential for adding this to their coverage abilities.
Property owners are encouraged to visit the Farm FireSmart website; a purpose-designed program designed by Lac Ste. Anne County Fire Services to promote fire safety practices on farms and acreages in the Lac Ste. Anne region. Additionally, the Canadian FireSmart program can be found at firesmartcanada.ca.