Fire department sends huge bill after home burns

An Arizona homeowner had insurance for his residence, but the policy did not cover firefighting costs.

By InvestorPlace Nov 12, 2013 2:40PM

Past due stamp sitting on three bills. © Derek E. Rothchild, Stockbyte, Getty ImagesBy Karl Utermohlen


Two weeks after a man's Arizona home burned down, he received a bill of almost $20,000 to pay for the help his family received from the private fire department.


Fox Phoenix reported that Justin Purcell and his wife were not home when the fire started and the Rural Metro Fire Department showed up to fight it. The firefighters were not able to salvage the house, which burned to the ground, and Purcell received a $19,825 bill two weeks later.


"Everything was completely gone," Purcell told Fox. “It’s definitely a shocker when you come back and your house is gone." Purcell lived in the town of Surprise.


The homeowner and his wife were even more surprised when they received the hefty bill two weeks later. Purcell said the fire department's expenses were broken down on the bill, including $1,500 for each truck.


Purcell had insurance on his home, but the policy didn't cover the fire bill.


Colin Williams, a spokesman for Rural Metro, told Fox that "those numbers are set based on 65 years on tradition buying equipment, training, operating a fire service." He added that the rates are fair considering the fact that Purcell lived in an area of Arizona that has no fire coverage.


Rural Metro offers payment plans for those who can’t afford to pay large bills right away, but it does not give people the option to let their house burn.


More details from the story can be found on Fox Phoenix.


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898Comments
Nov 12, 2013 3:23PM
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If I didn't hire them, I wouldn't pay them. They were unsuccessful at saving anything anyways.
Nov 12, 2013 3:25PM
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It is becoming the American way to force someone to pay for services NOT rendered.
Nov 12, 2013 3:28PM
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I find this stupid. If people pay property taxes and other taxes for public police and fire fighters, why should they have to pay *twice*? It's not fair.
Nov 12, 2013 3:29PM
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"Rural Metro offers payment plans for those who can’t afford to pay large bills right away, but it does not give people the option to let their house burn."

So, they did NOt call the fire dept to ask for help. They are being charged a huge sum. They are not allowed to NOT get help?

How is this NOT extortion? And it opens a can of worms in that it sets up a perfect situation for arson for profit.

Someone put this system in place. Who did it? What is their name?
Nov 12, 2013 3:27PM
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I'm pretty certain the fire department set the house on fire
Nov 12, 2013 3:33PM
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if they didn't do the job - saving the house- then they get nothing. He didn't hire them so he shouldn't have to pay them. If I hire someone to paint my house and they don't paint the house, I shouldn't have to pay them. How can the fire department expect to get money for letting the house burn to the ground? They should get what that family has left - nothing.
Nov 12, 2013 3:29PM
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Good luck collecting.  It sounds more like extortion.

Nov 12, 2013 3:22PM
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"Sorry but your kidnapping and having your family whacked but here is our bill for 50 grand to cover the investigation costs"  Sincerely private police department.
Nov 12, 2013 3:37PM
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Seems being forced to pay for something you didn't ask for is become the norm in this country!

 

Nov 12, 2013 3:22PM
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AZ has to be the most backward state ever!
Nov 12, 2013 3:41PM
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This is what happens when you 'privatize' such services. Outrageous, unpayable bills.
Nov 12, 2013 3:36PM
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I am finding this  one hard to understand since I am used to fire fighters being paid thru the state or volunteers. The fire department is private owned,  his house burned completely to the ground, and he got a bill for it..  he is not allowed to say, hey I cant afford to pay for it, let it burn down.. and to kick him in the a$$, the house burnt to the ground anyways and he still has to pay the fire fighters..  All I can say is, I am glad I don't live there.

Nov 12, 2013 3:31PM
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What??!!?? You mean to tell me your house insurance also needs to have a fire department rider in the event of a fire?  What won't the insurance companies think of next?  Or - is this a revenue stream for the fire department?  I thought that's one of the reasons you pay municipal taxes.
Nov 12, 2013 3:40PM
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Seriously? This family just lost everything...Maybe our tax dollars should be used to help families when disasters like this happen instead of paying for criminals and murderers to sit in prison.
Nov 12, 2013 3:34PM
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Is there a franchise I can buy somewhere for this extortion?
Nov 12, 2013 3:28PM
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Metro Fire, if they receive any government tax funds and are volunteer, in most state they can not charge. However they can ask for donations. My other question is "where is the City fire Department"?

 

Nov 12, 2013 3:32PM
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thank you god I don't live in that state, how is it his fault his home burned to the ground.  wow

If I were him, I wouldn't pay it.  he didn't hire them to do the job, they came out on their own... stupid as law AZ,

Nov 12, 2013 3:24PM
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Nice Surprise from the town of Surprise!
Nov 12, 2013 3:36PM
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It is a known fact that there are a lot of firefighters who set fires. I would hire a private investigator to look into this. at least try to oncover this shakedown. Arizona is a hotbed of mafia affiliated activity. Turn over the rocks and see what crawls out. A snake I'll bet.
Nov 12, 2013 3:30PM
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