Why does a Fire Engine and an ambulance come when I called 911 for a medical emergency?

South Placer Fire District (SPFD) fire stations are strategically located throughout the District. Every SPFD Firefighter is certified as a Paramedic or Emergency Medical Technician, with at least one Paramedic on every response unit.


In the event of a critical incident, time is important. In most instances, SPFD arrives first on scene and provides patient care. Patients are stabilized and treated before being transported to a hospital. This often requires multiple firefighters and paramedics to ensure the person being treated is moved efficiently and safely. SPFD Paramedics transport the patient to the hospital in an SPFD Ambulance, transfer care to one of our partner agencies, or maintain patient care and accompany critical patients in the ambulance to the hospital.


Not all medical calls are solely medical in nature. For example, responding to a car crash might also require extrication (Jaws of Life) tools. A medical call to a home might also require addressing a carbon monoxide leak. Another caller might need help lifting a patient who may or may not be injured. In these situations, firefighters provide additional skills and equipment. As soon as a situation is stabilized, firefighters may be released so they are available to respond to other emergencies.


In addition, we must be ready to respond to various emergencies. Not only do our vehicles have the equipment and supplies we need to do this, but having these resources with us allows us to respond to the next call as quickly as possible, dispatched from our current location.


So, while it may seem strange to have a fire truck pull up outside your home when you’ve called 911 because of an emergency medical situation, our community needs us to be ready to respond to the next call, no matter the situation.

What is the Emergency Medical Services First Responder Fee?

An Emergency Medical Services First Responder Fee, permitted under Health and Safety Code Section 13916, is a cost recovery mechanism for first responder paramedic services.


Why does South Placer Fire District (SPFD) have an Emergency Medical Services First Responder Fee?
Not all Districts have firefighters who are also paramedics, as we do in SPFD. This enhanced level of service protects our community to a greater degree. First responder fees have become an industry standard among Districts with this response capability to help offset the increasing costs of the enhanced paramedic level of service provided by engine and truck companies but not covered by your property taxes. The purpose of the fee is to ensure that those requiring life support services resulting in transport to a hospital pay the costs of receiving those services.

The Emergency Medical Services First Responder Fee ensures the level of service is maintained and that those people utilizing the services pay reasonable costs for those services.


Who is charged the fee?
Only those who receive life support services resulting in transport to a hospital are charged this fee.


Why have I received a First Responder Fee bill?
You have received this bill because the South Placer Fire Protection District responded to a 9-1-1 call from you or someone representing you, and a medical assessment was performed.


What if I received a bill?
If you have received an invoice, please submit your insurance information with the contact information provided. If you do not have insurance, use the contact information on the invoice to inform Wittman Enterprises.


Am I responsible for paying the First Responder Fees?
Most medical insurance carriers fully or partially cover First Responder Fees. If you receive a First Responder Fee bill, use the contact information on the invoice to submit your insurance information for billing.


I have Medicare. Do I have to pay the First Responder Fee?
Yes. Medicare does not cover the first responder fee. Please use the contact information on the invoice to let Wittman Enterprises know you have Medicare.


I have Medi-Cal/Medicaid. Do I have to pay the First Responder Fee?
No. Please use the contact information on the invoice to let Wittman Enterprises know you have Medi-Cal/Medicaid.


What if I do not have medical insurance coverage?
If a patient does not have medical insurance, the patient should immediately notify Wittman Enterprises.


What if I am unable to pay my bill?
South Placer Fire Protection District has a hardship policy that allows applications to waive, reduce, or set up a payment plan. A hardship application can be requested from Wittman Enterprises or South Placer Fire District.


Why is my medical insurance carrier responsible for paying this fee?
Pre-hospital care is considered a critical component of the healthcare system, saving lives and supporting most medical insurance carriers covering the First Responder Fees.


Do my taxes cover this service?
Local fire agencies have far expanded their original duty of fighting fires and responding to emergencies. Originally, only basic medical services (splints, CPR, etc.) were provided. Today, more than 80% of all calls the fire district responds to are for advanced life support, including intubations and the use of defibrillators. Fire districts’ challenge is ensuring revenues match the increasing expenses for providing this essential public service. This change in balance from traditional fire suppression to medical services has shifted the rationale for financing fire district operations toward combining general fund revenues and user fees instead of solely from general fund revenues. This combination will create a more sustainable funding source by providing revenues beyond property tax assessments.


Who is doing the billing?
South Placer Fire Protection District has an agreement with a professional billing service, Wittman Enterprises, which specializes in fire district fee recovery. This was done because Wittman Enterprises has an established relationship with the insurance industry, an acceptable rate of return for recovering costs, and charges a reasonable rate for this service. We determined there was no way our existing administrative staff could have taken on this additional work and been successful in fee recovery as an established company.


How is the fee determined, and who pays?
The amount of the fee is based on the cost of providing services. This includes personnel, equipment, and materials costs; a public agency cannot profit from a fee. This fee will only be charged to patients who receive medical life support services from a first responder unit (Engine or Truck) and are transported to a hospital by ambulance. Because pre-hospital care is a critical healthcare system component, most insurance covers the Emergency First Responder Fee.

Why does the South Placer Fire District Fire use lights and sirens when responding to emergencies?

Using lights and sirens allows firefighters to respond safely, efficiently, and expeditiously to each emergency. If you are driving and encounter an emergency vehicle with its lights and sirens on, pull safely to the right and allow the emergency vehicle to pass safely.

What should I do if I accidentally call 911?

If you accidentally call 911, do not hang up the phone. Stay on the line and tell the operator what happened. The operator must know exactly where you are so the police can verify that the 911 call was accidental.

How do I reach the fire department to report an emergency?

Call 911 for emergencies and 530-886-5375 for non-emergency dispatch.


You can contact the Fire Department at 916-791-7059 during business hours for normal business inquiries.

Are South Placer Fire District Firefighters also Paramedics?

Every South Placer Fire District Firefighter is certified as a Paramedic or Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), and with at least one Paramedic on every response unit, patients with even the most serious conditions can be stabilized and treated before being transported to a hospital.

What kind of emergencies can the South Placer Fire District respond to?

South Placer Fire is an All Hazards Fire Department, meaning that our firefighters respond to incidents such as structure fires, wildland fires, medical emergencies, trench rescues, hazardous materials releases, confined space rescues, building collapses, and vehicle extractions.

What is the South Placer Fire District Fire Department ISO rating?

The Department received an ISO Public Protection Classification rating of 3-3Y in January of 2015.

How can I find out about employment opportunities?

Job announcements are posted on the District website. Click on Join Our Team.

How do I obtain a fire incident report?

To request a fire incident report, please contact the Fire Marshal at 916-791-7059.

Why does the South Placer Fire District have two closed fire stations?

SPFD is funded by a small portion of your overall property taxes, two special taxes, a benefit assessment, ambulance transport fees, cellular tower leases, fire prevention and mitigation charges, and reimbursement for emergency incidents. As an independent Fire District, no revenue is received from Placer County or the State.

In 2022, SPFD conducted a Benefits Assessment within Division Two (Granite Bay, areas of unincorporated Loomis, and the Southern areas of Newcastle and Penryn) to increase revenue and maintain the existing service level of four stations with three firefighters on a day in Division Two. The Benefit Assessment did not pass, and the District was forced to make some hard decisions that included closing one additional station (Station 16 on Olive Ranch Road had been closed before the assessment), reducing on-duty daily staffing by two personnel (for a reduction of six (6) full-time firefighters), and remove a Truck company from service. To maintain an adequate response time, Station 15 personnel (Eureka Road by Granite Bay High) relocated to Station 16, and Station 19 was closed. Station 17 transitioned from a Truck Company (the apparatus with a ladder that performs search and rescue and ventilation at the fire as well as extrication at vehicle accidents but does not carry water) to an Engine Company (carries water and hoses to extinguish fires) to ensure that a Fire could be extinguished quickly anywhere in the District.

These changes allowed the District to reduce overall costs and implement a balanced budget based on board-adopted budgeting principles for the first time in three years and even longer than that if you omit the grant funding that paid for the additional six positions noted above.

The District is not content or happy about these changes, but they were necessary. Currently, the District is developing a Master Plan that will identify strengths and weaknesses in the District and chart a clear path for the optimum community service delivery model based on District revenues.

How much do I pay for Fire Protection?

Division One:

  • Approximately 2.9% of your property taxes go to the Fire District
  • Special tax (2023)  – $129.58/year (Approx.)
  • Benefit Assessment (23/24) – $260.50/year  (Approx.)
    • Both Tax and BA have a COLA that adjusts annually

Division Two:

  • Approximately 13% of your property taxes
  • Special tax – $70/year
    • No COLA
How do I obtain a copy of a patient care report (PCR) or EMS billing?

You can make a request to Wittman Enterprises at records@webillems.com