Fire department bills Indiana family $28K

February 18, 2010 3:02:14 PM PST
An Indiana family was stunned to receive a $28,000 bill for firefighters putting out a fire at their home.

The Fairchilds lived in New Castle, about 50 miles east of Indianapolis.

A local volunteer fire department put out the fire. The family later received an itemized bill from a company called Emergency Services Billing Corporation.

It seems some fire departments are charging for services once funded solely through taxpayer money.

The owner of Emergency Services Billing says federal environmental law allows departments to charge what they see fit.

The bill went to the Fairfield's insurance company, which is refusing to pay.

"I always thought that a volunteer fire department was just that, volunteer and taxes helped pay for that," said Brian Fairchild, fire victim.

"If you hit a bridge, the taxpayers paid for the bridge; they're going to send you a bill to repair the bridge," said Robert Blackford, Emergency Services Billing.

Blackford told ABC News his company plans to go to court to collect the money.