Fire Fees

This topic contains 66 replies, has 3,870 voices, and was last updated by  Eags753 10 years, 3 months ago.

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    hi Chief,
    I moved into diamondhead a short time ago and I recently became friends with my neighbors. I asked them about the DFPD fees and they responded with….”don’t pay that!, we don’t”..Well, as a responsible citizen I know someone has to pay for the level of protection we have here in Diamondhead. Anyway, I would really like to know if there is a system in place to make sure everyone pays these fees.




    Sorry for taking so long to respond. I’m always happy to answer any questions about the Fire District.

    Unfortunately like your neighbor, who knows that there is a fire fee and refuses to pay it; have been missed because of a number of reasons.

    The Fire District is diligently, and might I add successfully, finding those who are not paying fire fees, and prosecuting them through the court system, unless they come in voluntarily.

    When those people are found, and finding out that they no longer just owe fire fees, but late fees, attorney fees as well as court cost, they usually have a shocking wakeup call.

    We have found that a certain area in the community has been having several homes built without notifying us, and there will be several people shocked that they have been discovered. Maybe your neighbors are some of them.

    The Diamondhead Fire Protection District was formed as a body politic under the Laws of Mississippi 19-5-175 of the Mississippi Code of 1972. This law allows the District to charge fees for services under section 19-5-177. An Attorney Generals opinion dated November 29, 1990 confirms that we may charge fees.

    I pointed out in a previous posting about how much the District receives in Tax money, and I ask that you review that information. I hope it will answer several more questions if you have any.

    I want to thank you for inquiring about the fire fees, and I also hope that this information reaches those people who are still not paying. It is much easier to pay the $20.00 a month ether by bank draft or check, or paying by the year with a one month deduction.

    In the fire station where you pay your fee, is a packet of information that explains everything about the tax millage, fire fees, and the affect our insurance rating has on the premiums being paid by the citizens.

    Please, come by and pick one up.


    wayne king

    It is certianly not much, and other than questioning the legality, I was woundering if an attorney generals opinion was requested on reduceing the fee for fire protection, when paid annually, to assertain if it was legal. It seems as if you pay by the month you are being penialized and charged more than someone who pays annually for the same service. If it is not legal it may jepordize future collections by legal means. If a payment is not late, I do not think monthly payers of their fire fees should pay any more than those who pay it annually.


    wayne king

    It is certianly not much, and other than questioning the legality, I was woundering if an attorney generals opinion was requested on reduceing the fee for fire protection, when paid annually, to assertain if it was legal. It seems as if you pay by the month you are being penialized and charged more than someone who pays annually for the same service. If it is not legal it may jepordize future collections by legal means. If a payment is not late, I do not think monthly payers of their fire fees should pay any more than those who pay it annually.


    wayne king

    No comment from the Fire people??????Must be something to the idea of impropirety of chargeing monthly payers more than annual payers of the fire fee. After all, Income taxes paid annually, quarterly or by pay period are still the same, there is no break on the base amount, only late charges and penalities for underpayments. Looks like only one view point is desired, much like it was in fudal england.



    You should be happy that there is a provision for you to pay monthly. The tax collector does not give you a monthly payment option, and if you pay late, there’s an added fee, Insurance+annual payment= No Fee, Insurance+monthly payment=Fee – See the pattern here?

    I think you’re looking at the wrong end of the gift horse. Maybe you need to take a finance class and spend less time trying to incite unnecessary conflict.


    wayne king

    My previous statement still seems valid. By the way, I use my real name.



    I am writing this as a resident of Diamondhead, whose Maintenance Fees, Fire Fees, County Taxes are all current.

    I am a resident with every right to my own opinion, and a real knowledge of what is going on. I know where we came from, and I know how far the fire department has progressed. I moved to Diamondhead on April Fools 1985. My 3rd day here, I met the firefighters, all 3 of them, when I called for help with 2 coral snakes in my living room. That wasn’t 3 men on a shift, back in those days, there was only 1 man on a shift. The entire department was 3 men and a chief. In the event of a fire, it was pretty well hoped it didn’t occur during golf time, or past bed time. Manpower was dependant on some very very civic minded volunteers.

    The first fire, after our arrival, was a Fire Department nightmare. The chief thought he was going to totally lose the first structure in his career. It became obvious after this fire that the department needed trained professionals. So he committed himself to getting more firemen, getting them trained. Not just basic training, but making them into some of the best firefighters in the state. Getting as many as he could certified as EMT’s for the medical calls, and getting the proper equipment to let them do their jobs correctly.

    Originally the fire department was part of the Property Owners Association. When they became a governmental agency, the POA still provided funds to the fire department from Maintenance Fees. This was only right, as the POA told the property owners that their maintenance fees were paying for security and fire protection. Then, when times got tight for the POA, they stopped the payments. That is when, the Fire Commissioners had to take action to find some way to meet the operating costs and growth needs of the fire department.

    The chief explains the 4 mil. issue pretty well, and it should be obvious to everyone that 4 mil. is not and never has been enough to provide a fire department with Diamondhead’s equipment and manpower needs. The issue of what good are they doing me can be looked at from 2 angles: There is the boring financial angle. Call your insurance company and ask what your annual premium would be if your house were in a Town Class 10 rated Fire District. Then do the math. I think you’ll find, after you pay your current insurance and your fire fees, you are still quite a bit ahead financially. You see, a Town Class 10 is what you would be if your fire department did not exist. Sure, we could have a less efficient department. Give us a Town Class 7 or 8, but my insurance with USAA would still be more than what I pay now. According to the State Insurance Commission, that is how it would be for everyone.

    My favorite angle is the emotional issue. I spent many years as a volunteer EMT for the department. I can promise you when someone’s wife or husband is down and needs help within 5 minutes to live the fire department is the most welcome visitor at the door and no one in the house complains about last month fire fees. When a house is on fire, firemen suddenly seem awfully wonderful people.

    Most career firefighters picked their profession because they want to help people. Those firemen didn’t die in the Trade Center for a paycheck, and the Diamondhead firefighters would have been up in that building to the man if they were faced with that situation. Problem is, the fire department can’t wait for people to suddenly have a need for them, to justify their existence. The department has to be ready and able in advance of the need.

    The Diamondhead Fire Department is facing a major need to expand again because of the growth in the community. Not only because it will save our Town Class 6 rating, but because lives and property are in danger. If our fire department is not able to respond any longer to certain areas it could put all within the district in jeopardy.

    The Fire Commissioners have had to make some unpleasant tough decisions about fire fees. If you are into the finances, then the question is, do I want to pay my fire fees so my insurance premiums don’t increase? If you are into the emotional issue, ask yourself, if you want a man to die because he lives up by the water tower, and the fire department can’t get thru the traffic to arrive in time to save him. Hey, let’s make that a choking child? Are you willing to let a child choke to death so you don’t have to pay fire fees?

    The chief has written articles and done talks, explaining the needs for each piece of equipment purchased. He has explained why the Commissioners have had no choice about fire fees in their commitment to keep Diamondhead residents safe.

    Salaries? Our firemen have to work 2 jobs to make ends meet. The Commissioners and I would love to have that money in our pockets each month. However, I really like knowing, that if I get another coral snake in my living room, and get bit. I’m going to have some of the state’s best trained firefighter/EMTs at my door within minutes. And heaven forbid we have a fire, there is not a department I would rather have pull up at my door.

    So, anyone who whines about fire fees makes me sick. You are selfish disgusting whiners, who would change your tune if it was your spouse, child or grandchild that needed help.

    And Mr. King. I don’t mind telling you my name. It is Mrs. Dawna Westbrook, the chief’s wife, and I have an opinion too!



    I must bear the responsibility for the Fire Chief’s lack of reponse. We have experienced several power outages here at our office (one from a lightning strike) and have had intermittent problems with our site. We know that Chief Westbrook has tried to respond but was unable to successfully post his reply.

    We are working to correct these problems.


    wayne king

    I have great admiration for any person who provides a service that protects the public and its property. The providers usually are not compensated adequately and bear sacrifices that largely go un-sung. The amount of the fire fee has never been an issue I feel we here in diamondhead have one of the best trained and equiped group of fire fighters and emergency techs on the gulfcoast of Mississippi. If it cost more to maintain that, so be it, I will support excellence and its maintainence. The question has always been equality in the payment to support that excellence, why should one property owner pay more fire fees on an annual basis than another because of the manner they select in makeing that payment. My original message ask if the POA had gotten an Attorney Generals opinion in reguards to the alternate methods of payment of the fire fee. The disparity in the amounts appears to give favioratism to those who pay annually, and the discussion in earlier messages aluded to suit and takeing of property for non-payment of firefees. This aquisitrion to me would be difficult if favortism could be proved in the payment of the fees and therefor be illegal and cause another un-needed lawsuit by some property owner or group of property owners against the POA which in the past has appeared to be quick to react without adequate research. Again, I think everyone at the fire dept does a great job and provides services that are irreplaceable and for the cost are truely a bargan, the problem is a basic american quirk that makes us all equal and no one is eligible for favoritism or special consideration over another in reguards to public services that all pay for. I apologize for not being clearer earlier,was trying to save space I guess, at least some interest was generated, thanks for the responses. Take care all and God Bless.



    I cannot address the subject of legality in equality of payments. Over the period of a year the department spends more than $20.00 per account for handling, mailing, etc. for monthly billing. If the fee is paid annually, this expense is not incurred. It is more out of pocket, but the department actually realizes less from those paying monthly.I know that the Commissioners for years have struggled to keep the fees as low as possible and as fair as possible in regards to the businesses, homeowners and lot owners. I also know they make every effort to not violate any MS laws and spend precious funds to have lawyers make sure their decisions are in accordance with the laws.I get a little testy on the subject of non-payment of fire fees. I cannot fathom the thinking process of people who refuse or object to paying.Something I can clarify for you. The POA has absolutely nothing to do with the running or decision making of the Diamondhead Fire Department. The POA is like the grocery store, or a gas station, they are just one of the businesses within the protection area of the department. They pay fire fees like any other business. It begins and ends there.The Diamondhead Fire Protection District is a governmental agency. Policy is determined by the Fire Commissioners, and the Commissioners are appointed by the Hancock County Board of Supervisors. The Diamondhead Fire Protection District’s area covers more property than just the residential area under the umbrella of the POA.Thank you for expressing your admiration as to the excellence of the department. It is small, but it is one of the best.


    wayne king

    Thanks for the explanation, sounds reasonable, it would have made a great ansewer to the original thread back in 8-15-2004. Was there anything in the attorney generals authorization, stated by the fire chief in his thread, to collect fees that allowed for the difference in fees due to bookkeeping, mailing, or whatever makeing monthly payments more expensive on an annual basis?






    To quote someone far wiser than I, “Why don’t you try practicing random acts of intelligence and senseless acts of self-control”?Any further comment on my part would only inflame your pornographic mind. This lady doesn’t play that game. You are disgusting.PS: You might want to do a Google search on “netiquette” and read carefully. Your first focus should be on “Cap Lock”.


    Indeed! I know as well as the rest of the residents here that I send out a check every month! You can pay by the year, but IT is still paid1

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