Several Hugo homeowners receive bills from Rural Metro

GRANTS PASS, Ore.– Months after wildfire season some homes in Hugo are getting bills by firefighting agencies.

Rural Metro Fire sent out the bills after saving homes in the Hugo Road Fire in September. The agency finds itself in a unique position though.

As one of the only two private agencies in Josephine County, homeowners have the option to opt out of payment plans for Rural Metro’s protection. But that doesn’t mean the agency won’t try to save your home.

“It’s not a new system,” said Division Chief Austin Prince, “Its been in place for as long as a private fire industry has been in Josephine County.”

After nearly losing their homes in the Hugo Road Fire, several homeowners have been surprised to find a bill from firefighters. Rural Metro charges people for their protection.

“It may not be because they aren’t grateful for a fire truck to have showed up and actually save their home,” said Prince.

The agency covers roughly 250 miles of land around Grants Pass. But not every homeowner signs up to be what they call a subscriber.

“It’s no additional billing if we show up for a wildfire or a house fire,” he said.

As the Hugo Road Fire spread rapidly, agencies rushed to the area to save homes and lives and firefighters don’t worry about whether someone has paid them in advance.

“When fires are burning through the neighborhood like September 2,” said Prince. “There’s no way we’re going to know in enough time.”

It’s once the fire is cleared that they go back and assess. Eleven homeowners in Hugo are being billed this month.

“If we were the ones that did it we seek the reimbursement,” said Prince.

Rural Metro says emergency help isn’t billed at extra cost, it’s simply what anyone with coverage would pay. The agency says that they try to get the word out every year about this unique system but questions always come in.

If you still have questions, contact their offices to learn more.

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