The Kirby Select Board considered ongoing concerns over a spike in bills

The Kirby Select Board considered ongoing concerns over a spike in bills the town has received from regional fire departments at their meeting last week. Kirby does not have a fire department and relies on the departments in neighboring towns for emergency responses. Keith Isham, chair of the board, said he asked area fire departments that respond to Kirby 911 calls for details on their billing practices. He did not get any information from the St. Johnsbury Fire Department, which has sent several costly bills to the town this year associated with an accident and alarms. The Concord Fire Department sent details about their billing breakdown. Isham said he went to the St. Johnsbury Fire Department and the town manager’s office to try to discuss the spike in billing, but came away without any clearer picture of how the charges were assessed. Of a handful of bills from St. Johnsbury that has alarmed Kirby officials, Isham said, “They never sent a letter, anything … last January there was a car accident on Route 2 and they sent us a bill for $1,000, no explanation, nothing.” Isham said they have come to understand St. Johnsbury charges $400 a truck, an hour for each person (on the truck) and nine hours for the two people called in to cover the firehouse. “We have no contract. That was the start of it, all of a sudden we get this bill for $1,000,” he said. Concord Fire Department charges Kirby $150 for a truck responding to town. East Burke’s Volunteer Fire Brigade likewise bills the town of Kirby $150 for a truck, noted Isham. “But St. J, all of a sudden they made a couple of trips to Mud Hollow and it’s $1,000 every time they drive to Mud Hollow.” By the end of the board’s discussion, the three selectmen, including Jeffrey Hayes and Mike Bickford, considered proposing an emergency fund line item of $25,000 in the town budget, saying residents would have to cover the added line item expense.