Virginia Beach’s rise in lift assist calls prompts service charge ordinance proposal

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VIRGINIA BEACH — The amount of lift assist calls the fire department receives has increased by 80 percent over the past two years, and now the city could charge a service fee for the non-emergency service if it becomes excessive.

Interim Fire Chief David Hutcheson presented the ordinance proposal to city council at its meeting Tuesday.

“On this ordinance, we are certainly not trying to charge for service,” Hutcheson said. “But if we get up over a thousand calls, that [mainly come from] two residents, it becomes problematic.”

Lift assist requests come when people call 911 because they can’t get up on their own.

Hutcheson said the fire department has received calls for incidents like cardiac arrest and a fire, but the engine they needed to respond was busy with a lift assist call.

“We do everything we can to shave seconds, so we don’t really want to give up minutes on a call,” Hutcheson said. “We set the number … we agreed that six times in a year was plenty.”

Any additional lift assists after reaching the new potential threshold could result in a $150 service charge, Hutcheson said.