Paying up to have firefighters put it out

Tight budgets are forcing fire departments and first responders to take a good look at how they do their jobs, and who is paying for it. It's a trend that may be coming to your township.

Blair Township in Grand Traverse County boasts a full service emergency response crew. It means fast response times from emts and firefighters, but it also means that these crews are often called to handle emergencies in neighboring townships.

The problem for the budget, and for the township board, is that nearly 40% of their calls are for residents who don't live in the township and don't pay to cover the costs. Jim Carroll, Blair Township Fire Chief, says simply "we are using out resources outside of our area but are residents are paying for those services."

The township board decided it was time to make some changes. At board meeting Tuesday night, the township moved to enter negotiations with their neighboring townships to work out some sort of payment for their services. According to Carroll, "I think what it comes down to is common sense."

Based on feedback, the board said they don't expect a lot of resistance and hope to implement a plan for the next year to help keep their services up and running.