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City of Lincoln
Fire & Rescue Department

What's it Cost?


Your 15 Cents Worth
Out of every property tax dollar paid by Lincoln homeowners, only 15.64 cents goes to support City government.

Lincolnís fire service began in 1872 when about 50 men banded together to protect the City. A citizensí petition led to the creation of a full-time paid Fire Department in 1885. Today, Lincoln Fire and Rescue (LF&R) has 302 employees, including 269 Firefighters/Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and 75 Firefighter/Paramedics. The departmentís mission is to provide the highest level of life and property safety to Lincoln residents through fire prevention, fire control, emergency medical services and public education. The department was one of the first in the world to receive accreditation in 1997, and it has retained that status ever since.

Over the past 15 years, the City of Lincoln has grown 21 percent in population and 24 percent in size. Over the same time period, the number of LF&R employees funded by general tax revenue has increased only 3.4 percent, from 252 to 269.

Since the department started ambulance service in 2001, the department has added 29 employees paid from the ambulance enterprise fund, not tax dollars. In 2004, four employees were added to support the federally funded FEMA Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) program.

The departmentís annual operating budget for the current fiscal year is $28.7 million. About $23.4 million is from general tax fund revenue. Ambulance user fees make up about $4.3 million, and the FEMA US&R program makes up about $1.0 million.

If the average household received a bill for fire services paid from general fund revenue, the bill would be about $18.97 a month. Hereís how it breaks down.

Emergency Services
Monthly cost per household - $17.60

Firefighting services account for more than 92 percent of the budget. To be the most cost effective, firefighters are cross-trained to respond to fire, rescue and medical emergencies as well as hazardous materials incidents. These same firefighters conduct fire prevention activities as part of an annual inspection of commercial and business properties. They also provide fire safety education for at-risk members of the community, including children and handicapped and elderly residents. LF&R has made a major effort to distribute smoke detectors in the community using grant funds and donations.

Each of the 14 stations houses one fire engine. Four stations also have an aerial ladder truck. Four people are assigned to each of these 18 vehicles: a Captain, a Fire Apparatus Operator, a Firefighter/Paramedic and a Firefighter.

Six of the 14 stations also house an ambulance staffed with one Firefighter/Paramedic and one Firefighter/EMT.

One station is the base for the hazardous materials response vehicle and air resupply unit.

Administrative Division
Monthly cost per household - 56 cents

The Administrative Division, which accounts for 3.0 percent of the budget, includes payroll and personnel records, budget, policies and procedures, facilities construction/renovation and special projects.

Maintenance Division
Monthly cost per household - 48 cents

The Maintenance Division, which accounts for 2.6 percent of the budget, is responsible for repair and maintenance of department vehicles and equipment.

Training Division
Monthly cost per household - 32 cents

The Training Division, which accounts for 1.7 percent of the budget, is responsible for training, Firefighter apprenticeship programs and all phases of continuing education.

Urban Search & Rescue
No local taxes fund used.

The Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) program also known as Nebraska Task Force 1 (NETF1) is sponsored by LF&R and funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The US&R team consists of 190 active members from several agencies including; Lincoln Fire & Rescue, Omaha Fire Department, Nebraska Emergency Medicine PC, Ayars and Ayars, and many civilians including K9 handlers and their rescue dogs, structural engineers, and communications specialists.

Advantages of this program provides LF&R with specialized training for the US&R rescue equipment and allows LF&R access and the use of over $4.3 million dollars worth of specialized rescue equipment in the event of a major disaster in Lincoln. There are no local taxes or funds used for this program. All funding is provided by FEMA.

NETF1 first served in the aftermath of Hurricane Emily in 1993 and to date an additional 22 deployments that include the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, the Pentagon and World Trade Center attacks in 2001, the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002, the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster in 2003 and it most recent activations were two deployments to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Ambulance Transport Services
Funded with user fees

Six ambulances are staffed daily for emergency response. An additional five ambulances are available for standby duty and peak times when the regular units are already responding to medical calls. City ordinance requires that in cases of a life-threatening medical emergency, an LF&R ambulance must arrive on scene in 8 minutes or less at least 90 percent of the time. Each of the six front line ambulances is staffed with at least one Firefighter/Paramedic and one Firefighter/EMT.

What's it cost for Firefighter/Paramedics?
Dual role/cross-trained firefighter paramedics cost you less than a separate employee would. With 75 duel role firefighter paramedics at an annual added cost of $7,250 per year for each employee (each resident's cost is 1/2 of a penny a day for this enhancement), the cost to add a firefighter trained as a paramedic to an engine company is very small.

All associated costs of adding ambulance service to the fire department have been included in the user fees charged to patients transported, their insurance provider or Medicare.

The ambulance fund reimburses the general fund for costs related to housing ambulances and personnel assigned to the ambulances. Any surplus funds derived from the fire department ambulance transport fees stay in the fund to maintain a low operating cost for this service. Your money stays in Lincoln.

Fire & Rescue Department