Opinion 92-45


This opinion represents the views of the Office of the State Comptroller at the time it was rendered. The opinion may no longer represent those views if, among other things, there have been subsequent court cases or statutory amendments that bear on the issues discussed in the opinion.


AMBULANCE SERVICE -- Fees (imposition for services of emergency rescue and first aid squad)
EMERGENCY RESCUE AND FIRST AID SQUADS -- Ambulance Service (no authority to impose fee for) -- Powers and Duties (imposition of fee for ambulance service)

GENERAL MUNICIPAL LAW, §209-b(4): A fee may not be imposed for the services of an emergency rescue and first aid squad of a fire district fire department.

You ask whether the emergency rescue and first aid squad of a fire district fire department may impose a fee on certain persons to whom they provide service.

General Municipal Law, §209-b authorizes fire districts to organize within their fire departments emergency first aid and rescue squads composed of firefighters who are members of the department (General Municipal Law, §209-b[1][a]). The squad may render services in cases of accidents, calamities or other emergencies in connection with which the services of firefighters may be required (id.). In addition, the board of fire commissioners of a fire district which has a squad composed mainly of volunteer firefighters, upon consent of the department and squad, and after public hearing, may authorize the squad to furnish general ambulance service (General Municipal Law, §209-b[2][a], [d],[e]; but see General Municipal Law, §209-b[2][j]).

Subdivision 4 of General Municipal Law, §209-b provides that emergency and general ambulance service authorized pursuant to section 209-b "shall be furnished without cost to the person served". The purpose of this provision is to "expressly [prohibit] any charge to be made for either emergency or general ambulance service by emergency [rescue] squads ..." (Memorandum of Joint Legislative Committees on Fire Laws re: L 1957, ch 849, McKinney's Session Laws of 1957, p 2171; cf. General Municipal Law, §122-b[2] authorizing any county, city, town or village to provide an emergency medical service, general ambulance service or combination thereof and to fix a schedule of fees or charges to be paid by persons requesting the use of such services). Accordingly, a fee may not be imposed for the services of an emergency rescue and first aid squad of a fire district fire department (1983 Opns St Comp No. 83-238, p 314; 14 Opns St Comp, 1958, p 356).

January 19, 1993
Joseph R. Attonito, Esq., Attorney at Law
Selden Fire District