Florala wants to charge for fire emergency calls

Florala mayor Robert Williamson fully supports a plan to charge homeowners and vehicle owners for emergency calls from the fire department. This is only for those who have insurance, not the uninsured.

"This would not come out of the pocket of the homeower. We would pursue payment from the insurance company," said Williamson.

Williamson says they want to do this so they get the 'best fire department they possibly can' for this city of nearly 2,000.

It is still being debated on how much to charge per call. Right now, Florala pays each volunteer firefighter $20 to answer a 911 call. The fire department spends more than $260 a month in fuel.

This proposal is not sitting well with many residents. They say it's the wrong approach and a really bad idea.

For Sara Tucker, the owner of not one but three local businesses, this doesn't make sense. Tucker claims she pays $10,000 a year in insurance premiums.

"It seems to me this would make my premiums go up, and with their loss at the time, I don't think anyone wants to be dealing with one more thing," Tucker said.

"I don't see this as adding insult to injury no more than having to repair a car or something," said Williamson.

The mayor says the town of Opp is already doing something similar. Mayor Williamson estimates the charge per call from the fire department would generate around $15,000 a year. With more than 20 volunteer firefighters the Florala Volunteer Fire Department answers more than 100 calls a year.

A burning issue with people like Tucker but apparently a done deal with the Florala City Council. It is supposed to vote on the proposed ordinance in mid-August, and the mayor tells WSFA 12 News the votes are there; unanimous.

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