Home Interviews THMG116 – Cost Recovery with Captain John Scott

THMG116 – Cost Recovery with Captain John Scott


In this episode, we discuss the need for cost recovery and how to start your team in the right direction with John Scott, who retired from the Jacksonville, Florida fire department.

Complete Show Notes

00:50 Introduction to John Scott and Cost Recovery in Florida

  • Retired captain of the City of Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department, where he worked for 29 years
  • Spent 23-25 of those years as a special officer on the city’s hazmat team
  • Became involved with cost recovery for fire departments when a few of his bosses asked him to look into it
  • Found a way to ensure cost recovery wasn’t done the same way every time – most companies in the fire service do a lot of good, so you can build relationships with them
  • Florida’s State Statute 633.202 stated that Florida would follow NFPA 1 and NFPA 101 – one of the few states that has this on top of the national fire code
  • This state statute clearly states that hazmat institutes must abide by the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) in terms of expenses

6:45 How Does Cost Recovery Work?

  • John’s department bills if a large apparatus is on sight for longer than an hour
  • They want to help small businesses and not charge them, but they also have to do their due diligence and be good stewards of the department’s money
  • Since it’s a state statute, people really can’t challenge what they’re billed for fire services – this is helpful and keeps them in the community’s good graces
  • They use standard FEMA guidelines – you can download a document from FEMA’s website that provides costs for all of your equipment

15:15 What Percentage Should We Try to Recover?

  • Don’t shoot for 100%, and don’t expect to get the money quickly
  • If you try to itemize expenses, you’re setting yourself up for scrutiny
  • Bill for staffing and equipment costs and add a 20% surplus cost
  • Sometimes you’re over, and sometimes you’re under
  • Cost recovery is much different than your department budget – you can’t foresee the future or how many runs you’ll go on
  • Look at what you want to do for your area, and then make sure to offset those expenses
  • Mutual aid departments don’t bill the department they assisted – directly bill the person who caused it

21:15 Getting Started with Cost Recovery

  • NFPA 1 is the best place to start – check out NFPA 101, too
  • It’s key to be better stewards of resources, too – be efficient while building up your knowledge base
  • Duplication and knowing who has authority eats up a lot of money – all about knowing who has the AHJ

25:45 Disgruntled Taxpayers

  • Many homeowners and business owners in your community have already paid taxes that are going towards fire departments
  • This doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have to pay for the fire department’s services, though
  • A good argument for homeowners, but not for business owners because it’s just a cost of doing business

27:30 What is the Cost of Cost Recovery?

  • John’s department prepares bills for every run, but there are some instances where it’s not worth billing people
  • Go to your local office of general council and talk to them about how to bill effectively without taxing your system

31:00 Maintaining a Good Relationship with Business Owners

  • Even though you’re billing them for runs, you can still have a good and productive relationship with local business owners
  • Educate people on the costs involved in running a fire department and providing such a valuable service to the community – it’s not cheap
  • John looks at fire department cost recovery like anything else – if you want to be in business, you’re taking some calculated risks

34:00 Are There Limitations on What You Can Do with Recovered Money?

  • John’s department puts money into a general fund and doesn’t require it to be spent on anything specific

35:50 Contacting John


  1. We apologize! We’re working on them, slowly but surely. When we first started the podcast we didn’t do show notes – so we’ve started adding them at the request of our listeners. We appreciate your support and should have them up soon! Thanks.


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