The number of firefighters at the Trenton Fire Department is the lowest it's been in several years.
Department officials proposed an alternative revenue plan to city council members at a recent study session. If approved, the alternative revenue source might allow the department to hire new firefighters.
Trenton Fire Chief Bruce Vick asked council members to consider allowing the fire department to use department personnel and ambulances to transfer patients to and from local facilities, otherwise known as non-emergency inter-facility transfers.
For example, the Trenton Fire Department would charge Oakwood Southshore Medical Center to transfer a patient to another facility in the area. Capt. Glen Scafidi said Southshore currently pays other ambulance companies to transfer about 17 patients per day, and the Trenton Fire Department could handle at least two of those transfers.
Scafidi said an average transfer costs insurance companies about $400, which means the Trenton Fire Department could generate about $268,000 per year by performing two inter-facility transfers per day.
Scafidi said emergency calls would take precedent over inter-facility transfers and the Brownstown Fire Department could be also called upon to handle calls.
"If a 911 call comes in the transfer would wait and the 911 call would be addressed," Scafidi said.
Most inter-facility transfers are covered under most insurance plans, according to Scafidi.
Fire departments in Rochester Hills and Alpena currently perform inter-facility transfers.
About 40 hours of additional training would be required for firefighters before performing inter-facility transfers.
Vick also asked council members to consider hiring three new firefighters at the study session.
Council members cannot vote on an issue proposed at a study session and the proposal was not added to the agenda for the next city council meeting by Wednesday afternoon.
The next Trenton City Council meeting is scheduled for 8 p.m. Monday, Dec. 3.