Contract spat leads to changes in fire service in rural Lafayette

The Lafayette Fire Department is taking over service in an unincorporated area of rural west and northwest Lafayette Parish previously serviced by the Scott Volunteer Fire Department after a dispute between the SVFD and Lafayette Consolidated Government over the cooperative endeavor agreement and reimbursement schedule.

Citing changes LCG made to its agreement for fire-protection service with the Scott Volunteer Fire Department, an attorney for the SVFD notified LCG in early November that the SVFD would no longer take calls outside the city limits of Scott. At issue, according to the Nov. 7 letter from attorney William Babin, was LCG’s decision to increase an annual payment to SVFD from $40,000 to $50,000 but to stop paying the volunteer department on a per-call basis designated in a fee schedule. (Those per-call fees ranged from $60 per truck for false-alarm calls to $240 per truck for surpressing fires to homes and other buildings.)

The most recent cooperative endeavor agreement between LCG and the SVFD had ended on Oct. 31.

“This decision by [LCG] places my client in an untenable financial position,” Babin writes in the Nov. 7 letter. “While my client will not recieve the usual compensation as has been traditionally paid over the years, even though it makes the bulk of calls every year, its still must pay for its equipment, personnel, insurances, etc. Certainly my client desires to fulfill its mission to protect and serve the public, but it cannot financially continue providing services for on the new fixed amount of $50,000 when it must also fulfill its primary duty of providing fire protection to the citizens of the City of Scott.”

Yesterday, Mayor Joel Robideaux sent a letter to Babin notifying him that LCG would take over fire protection for the area previously covered by the Scott Volunteer Fire Department: “In response to your notice, the Lafayette Fire Department is fully prepared to take over fire protection services for the unincorporated areas of Lafayette Parish that were previously provided by the SVFD,” Robideaux writes, adding that the SVFD should return equipment on loan from LCG — that includes a tanker truck — and that the city of Scott would need to begin reimbursing Lafayette for fire dispatch services.