How will proposed ambulance fee increase be allotted?

- Imagine Hurricane Harvey, or any of the recent floods for that matter. Now, do you remember seeing fire trucks plowing through the floodwaters to rescue people? Probably not. They have been exercises in frustration for many Houston firefighters, according to Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association president Marty Lancton.

"When the citizens need us, we want to be there every time and we want to get there because that's our job and we love the citizens of Houston and we never want anything to stop us from getting to the citizens who need us," said Lancton.

But some of the fire trucks themselves were stopping them. Lancton doesn't have hard numbers, but says many of the trucks have air intakes underneath and close to the ground. To drive them into high water will drown them, which actually happened during Harvey.

At a news conference on Friday morning, Houston Fire Department Chief Sam Pena outlined his proposals to generate the revenue — by hiking ambulance fees for the first time in six years. He said the department wants to buy twelve more fire trucks in the next fiscal year, but that leaves many more that won't be able to safely tackle Houston floods.

"There may be a way to retrofit," said Chief Pena. "I don't know what the precise mechanics of that would be, but moving forward with the projected purchases, we are taking that into consideration and are incorporating those specifications that we need here in Houston specifically." 

But this is by no means a done deal. The City of Houston still has to approve the rate hikes, but the process doesn't end there. The money will be distributed to the general fund and the fire department will then have to try to get some of it back.

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