Company who bills for SE Bullitt Fire tells its side of the story
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Southeast Bullitt Fire Chief is under investigation for alleged insurance fraud pertaining to hazmat and crash clean-up costs. Now the company who bills for Southeast Bullitt is telling their side of the story.
When Southeast Bullitt Fire responds to a crash scene and there is a cleanup, those costs are often paid for by insurance and trucking companies.
Whatever is not covered can be billed to the driver.
WDRB obtained documents that show some costs are small. Others are over $3,800 or as much as $9,400. Dave Jett is the Cost Recovery Program Manager for Immediate Response Spill Technologies. This Louisville company is the billing agent for SE Bullitt Fire and other local fire departments.
"We've been notified by the Bullitt Co. Sheriff's Dept. that there was an investigation and they requested all documents in our file which we have given them copies of everything," Jett said. "There was a person with the FBI that accompanied them."
"We really don't have a specific check and balance," He explained. "We assume that our partners are accurate in what they give us. Periodically we have questions either from an insurer or a responsible party involved."
The SE Bullitt Fire Chief Julius Hatfield is on paid leave while he is under investigation for alleged insurance fraud and other charges.
Investigators are specifically looking into whether the fire department bilked insurance companies by inflating clean-up costs for car accidents to which firefighters responded.
Jett says SE Bullitt lets them know the number of firefighters, time spent, and equipment and materials used for the incidents.
"We're not involved in any fraud activity," Jett said. "We don't encourage anything to be done that's not truthful, in fact just the opposite. We want to make sure we're fair and we disclose everything we can about what we do."
Jett says rates for equipment and personnel are charged in 15 minute increments and says its rates are lower than other companies nationwide. "I think firefighters are $50 an hour and command officer, I believe is $90," he said.
According to the company's contract with Southeast Bullitt, it adds 10 percent to the invoices for administrative costs and is compensated for materials used like this product that cleans up diesel spills in water. Another product is used to clean up fluid spills at crash sites on asphalt.
A statement shows the cleanups that SE Bullitt was reimbursed for. For half of 2013 the fire department was paid more than $14,000 by insurance and trucking companies. This year, the department was paid more than $27,000.
Jett says drivers who are taxpayers in the district don't have to pay time and equipment costs, only material costs. "They've had 25 incidents this year, which to me actually seems low," Jett said. "If you consider the fact that they are on the interstate and an awful lot of work is on I-65 where they are located."
Jett said for some incidents, the fire department was never reimbursed because of uninsured motorists or other factors.
Several agencies have been looking into Hatfield and his department. The Sheriff's Department seized dozens of documents from his home and main fire house. Hatfield has not been charged with anything. The Sheriff's Department plans to take the evidence to a Grand Jury for a possible indictment.
Hatfield has come under fire for making a racist comment caught on tape and for the way he treated WDRB at a public meeting. He says after the investigations, he'll be vindicated and will resume his duties as Chief.
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