Brevard County Fire Rescue Frequently Asked Questions
Thank you for taking the time to review Brevard County Fire Rescue's Frequently Asked Questions. Most of the questions listed below were provided to us by our citizens. If there are additional questions that you would like included in this document, please let us know. You can email us at Brevard County Fire Rescue.
Fire Services Special Assessment (FSSA)
What is the Fire Assessment and what does it pay for?
This is a non-ad valorem MSBU, or municipal service benefit unit. You are charged this assessment based on the benefit to your property that you receive from fire protection services.
Who is charged this assessment?
All property owners in unincorporated Brevard, West Melbourne, Melbourne Village, Palm Shores, and Grant/Valkaria are charged the fire assessment on their annual tax bill. These are the areas of Brevard County that receive fire protection services from Brevard County Fire Rescue.
Why is my rate being adjusted?
In the past several years, the cost of fire operations and first responder Emergency Medical Services has increased. Increases in the cost of equipment, supplies, utilities, fire trucks, fire station repair/maintenance and compensation has outpaced revenue. The last fire assessment rate adjustment was in 2018.
Is this a one-time charge?
This is an annual assessment collected with your property taxes to support fire protection services. The first year for this assessment was FY 2006/2007. If this proposal is accepted by the Board the new rates will continue in effect until the Board decides to address this issue again.
The notice mentions Consumer Price Index (CPI); What is that?
The CPI is a measure of the average change over time in the prices paid by urban consumers for a market basket of consumer goods and services. This is adjusted annually and adopted by the Board of County Commissioners.
Where did you get the information on my property?
All of our information comes from the property appraiser’s office. You can look up your parcel at the Property Appraiser's website or call (321) 264-6700.
What type of assessment is this?
This is a non-ad valorem Municipal Services Benefit Unit or MSBU. You are charged this assessment based on the benefit to your property that you receive for fire protection service.
Why is my notice listed as an up to amount?
The Board of County Commissioners will consider multiple options at the public hearing, but will go no higher than what was legally advertised.
What will the funds be used for?
All funding that is generated from the Fire Assessment goes to fund a part of the Fire Rescue budget specifically for fire operations. This includes competitive compensation for personnel, capital purchases, infrastructure investment, reserve replenishment, operating expenses and a required expansion of services in response to community growth.
How did you get these rates and what are these rates based on?
This is a continuance of our current Fire Assessment methodology which has been in place for the previous two assessments. For residential properties the rates are based on the primary use code and the base rate benefit factor; for commercial properties the rates are based on the primary use code, the base rate benefit factor and a haz code.
What is the base rate factor or haz code?
The base rate factor is based on the use code, the base square footage, and a value that represents the building cost per square foot. This was determined by using a value maintained in the Property Appraiser’s system that represents the building cost per square foot.
A haz code is a hazard code assigned to commercial properties based on the property use codes designated by the property appraiser’s office. The hazard codes come from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). The haz codes are based on the potential for fire.
I have more than one structure on my property and this isn’t the correct use code.
We use the primary use code assigned by the Property Appraiser to determine our rates. If you have more than one structure, and each structure has a different use code, we do not have the capability to use that information in our billing system. We can only use one use code per property.
Will you be offering a Low Income Assistance Program this year?
Due to an informal opinion given by the State Attorney General of Florida, we cannot offer a reduction to anyone based on income.
Emergency Medical Services
I pay taxes, why am I being billed for this?
Of the funding necessary to operate the countywide ambulance system, property taxes make up 47% of total needed. The other 53% of required funding is generated through billing the users of the service (911 medical patients). In order to use the least amount of tax dollars to provide our ambulance service, BCFR utilizes a billing service.
Where do these rates come from?
These rates represent the average of providers in 17 counties and 42 municipalities. These rates were approved by the Board of County Commissioners and took effect April 21, 2009.
What are your EMS transport rates?
Rates are applied depending on the level of care required to treat and transport a patient to the hospital. Basic Life Support (BLS) is the lowest level of care administered; typically for a stable patient that does not require sophisticated paramedic level care. Advanced Life Support (ALS) involves a higher level of medical care where, depending on the patient’s condition may require I.V medications, cardiac monitoring, airway management, etc.
Why do I have to send my payment to a post office box in Orlando?
The post office box in Orlando is the lockbox for SunTrust bank. They process all of the payments that are received and forward all corresponding paperwork to the billing company for posting to the patients’ accounts.
Why don’t you accept my insurance?
We are not required by any law or statute to be a participating provider with any commercial insurance company and accept only their allowed amounts. We will accept a payment from an insurance company and then bill the balance to the patient. We are required by law to accept the Medicare, Medicaid and Tricare rates and statutory adjustments are made to the accounts. The patient is then billed for the co-insurance or co-payments per their individual policy with Medicare or Tricare.
The hospital has all of my information, why doesn’t BCFR?
We are not associated with any of the hospitals to which we transport patients. Our paramedics begin to gather information about our patients before they arrive at the hospital; sometimes, the hospital does not have patient information on file. Also, due to the nature of emergency calls, our paramedics may have to leave the hospital to respond to another emergency and not have the opportunity to receive patient information from hospital staff.
Why was I sent to collections?
Our billing company sends three statements to the patient at the address of record requesting either insurance information or payment. If the patient does not respond within six months the account will be sent to the collection agency for further pursuit of payment. If we do not have a good address for the patient, and the billing company cannot find a good address through their skip trace system, the patient will be sent to collections after six months.
What if I don’t have insurance and I can’t pay this bill?
Brevard County does not have any local ordinances or statutes to provide for self pay discounts. Our patients can contact our billing agency, to utilize the option of a payment plan. It is important that payment arrangements are made within six months of receiving a bill. Delinquent accounts, those accounts with no activity for six months, are sent to a collections agency.
Why do I have to sign the Medicare Signature Form?
Medicare now requires that anyone transported to a hospital by an ambulance service, sign a form. Since we don’t always know who is a Medicare patient and who isn’t, we ask all of our patients who are awake and alert to sign the form for our records.
My child (a minor) was taken to the hospital by ambulance. Why is the ambulance bill in my child’s name?
At the time that our paramedics provided emergency care to your child, information about you, the parent, wasn’t available or received. Simply call our billing company, and explain the situation and that you would like your name added to the account as the parent or guardian. c
Why was my child (a minor) sent to collections?
Our billing company sends three statements to the patient at the address of record requesting either insurance information or payment. If the parent or guardian does not respond within six months the account will be sent to the collection agency for further pursuit of payment. If we do not have a good address for the patient, and we do not have the name of the parent or guardian, and the billing company cannot find a good address through their skip trace system, the patient will be sent to collections after six months. If the collection agency is notified that the patient is a minor they will not send the patient’s information to the credit bureau.
A family member, who received your ambulance service in the past, recently passed away. He/she is still receiving ambulance bills. How do we stop the billing company from sending bills?
Contact our billing company to let them know of your loss. You will be asked to send them a death certificate as proof of your loved one’s passing in order to close the active account.
Do I have a choice of which hospital I want to be transported to?
Each patient has the right to choose the hospital destination of choice within Brevard County, providing that the patient is awake, alert and oriented. The exceptions to this rule are as follows:
- Ambulance status: If the Brevard County Fire Rescue dispatch center deems that the call volume in a particular area is too high, transports to hospitals other than the closest facility will be denied. This must be done to ensure that other residents have 911 coverage if needed.
- Change in patient status: A patient may be awake, alert and oriented at the time that transport is initiated, entitling him/her to choose their hospital destination. However, if the patient’s mental status declines during transport, the paramedics will then act in the patient’s best interest and divert to the closest facility.
- Trauma Alert patients: Per State Statute, all patients meeting state approved Trauma Alert criteria must be transported to the nearest state approved Trauma Center.
Do I have to go the hospital when I call 911?
No, you are not forced to go the hospital because you called 911. It is often strongly suggested that you go to the hospital, but if you are awake, alert and oriented you have the right to choose whether or not you will be transported via ambulance. If you choose to refuse transport to the hospital, you will be asked to sign a Patient Refusal Form by the paramedics; this releases Brevard County Fire Rescue from liability in the event that your condition deteriorates after refusing medical care.
What can I do to help the paramedics who come to my home?
You can assist the paramedics that respond to your emergency by having a complete list of your medical problems, medications and allergies to medications readily available. You may contact Brevard County Fire Rescue at (321) 633-2056 and ask for a Vial of Life. The Vial of Life is a bottle that contains a patient history form which contains the above information. The Vial of Life is then kept in your refrigerator. Just make sure that the vial is visible to the crews when they open your refrigerator door. It is also a good idea to keep a Vial of Life with this information in your automobile as well; you never know where you will be when an emergency happens!
If you have pets, it is a good idea to place them in a secure area or room so that they are not startled by the arrival of our paramedics.
In addition, if you or a loved one has a Florida Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNRO), please ensure that it is available upon the paramedics’ arrival. You can present a copy of the DNRO, but a copy must be printed on yellow paper in order for it to be considered valid.
What will happen when I arrive at the hospital in the rescue unit?
Upon arrival at the hospital, your care will be transferred over to the nursing staff at the hospital facility. Depending on the volume of patients at the hospital, it is possible that you may be sent to the waiting room if you are stable enough - even though you arrived by ambulance. Please remember that the hospitals treat patients utilizing a triage system. This means that the most severely sick or injured patients are seen first.
What do I do if I have lost some of my belongings when I am transported to the hospital?
Brevard County Fire Rescue does not have a “Lost and Found”. Patient belongings are left in the emergency department room with the patient at the time of transfer. Although the hospitals typically have a Lost and Found area, many patients never recover their belongings once they are misplaced. An easy way to ensure that this does not happen to you is to make sure that you only take items that are absolutely necessary with you to the hospital. Remember that the hospitals see large volumes of people each day and it is very easy for items to be lost or accidentally disposed of. Never take your valuables to the hospital with you.
How can I share a good experience or a complaint regarding the Brevard County Fire Rescue paramedics that responded to my emergency?
You may contact Brevard County Fire Rescue’s Office of EMS at (321) 633-2056 for either.
If you are sharing a story regarding a good experience, or you would like to thank a crew, the Office of EMS will prepare a memo based on your experience which will be placed into the crew members’ personnel files. These memos will follow the paramedics for the remainder of their career with Brevard County Fire Rescue.
If you call to report a complaint, the call taker will collect your name, contact information and date of service. The incident report, along with your contact information, will be passed on to the appropriate district chief that oversees the crew in question. The district chief will contact you to obtain the specifics of your complaint and he/she will investigate. Before a complaint can be considered “closed”, the district chief will be in contact with you again to advise you of the findings of his/her investigation. Since our crews, including our district chiefs, work a 24 hour "on"/48 hours “off” schedule, your complaint may not always be investigated on the exact day that you call it in. It will, however, be investigated upon the crews’ return to duty.