By Andrew Keller, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
Saginaw, MI -
If you get into a fender-bender in Saginaw it's not about who you call for help, but who shows up.
Saginaw's scraping to balance its budget. Firefighters are just one city service on the chopping block.
"One thing is for sure, we do need the fire company," said Saginaw resident Freddy Minao.
And as city leaders deal with the expected multi-million dollar deficit, the fire department is trying to bring in some extra cash.
"I don't think it's going to be the savior, you know, generate hundreds of thousands of dollars, but I think it'll generate a good amount, enough to justify," said Saginaw Fire Training Officer Ona Lee Aguilar.
Aguilar said now at every fender-bender a fire truck will show up. The firefighters will be additional support to police officers on scene and they'll get their hands dirty.
"Most accidents, there is something, either there's gas leaking, oil, radiator fluid, which is something that the water department doesn't want going into the sewers," said Aguilar.
And for the cleanup efforts, the department sends a bill to the involved-vehicle's insurance company to be reimbursed for supplies and manpower used.
Bill Giorgis, who works at Mike's Towing in Sagniaw, said the work is not necessarily a cash cow. He said his guys used to clean up the leakage at accidents before they took the damaged vehicles away.
"In terms of just like sweeping up the accident debris and a small spill, most of them probably run between $35 and $75 to $80," said Giorgis. "Our primary business is towing and storing."
But Aguilar said with the number of accidents in the city and the costs they plan to recoup for the manpower used, in this day and age, every cent counts.
Residents TV5 spoke with are too on board.
"If that helps keep them on, I think it's a good thing," said one Saginaw resident.
This program is on a trial basis. The city's fire department will respond to all accidents in the city for 120 days and see if there's a benefit for the community and if it makes sense financially.
As far as this affecting fire response, Aguilar said she doesn't believe it will.
Copyright 2013 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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