Of all the myriad roles conferred upon Foxboro fire and rescue in recent years, serving as a profit center was doubtless the most improbable.
But by ferreting out new revenue opportunities and tempering further reliance on local taxpayers, Fire Chief Michael Kelleher has helped expand the scope and scale of services without busting the budget.
At least that was the essence of a comprehensive “year in review” presentation delivered to selectmen last week, during which Kelleher’s leadership team framed their successes against a series of broad directives laid out by Town Manager William Keegan.
In addition to seeking alternative revenue sources, Keegan had called on town department heads to promote dialog and cooperation between public and private sectors, support the new regional 911 program, enhance customer service, and utilize federal stimulus funds whenever possible to address capital infrastructure needs.
Although the fire department has made progress in many of these areas, Kelleher suggested that it has been more successful than most at finding ways to make money.
Most notable in this regard has been the use of in-house resources to repair and maintain vehicles and emergency apparatus for three neighboring fire departments. But strides also have been made to maximize an increasingly lucrative ambulance service, rent space on the department’s communication tower to telecom providers and doggedly pursue FEMA reimbursements.
According to Kelleher, the department’s growth in ambulance receipts reflects not just an increase in run volume, but also by leaving no stone unturned when it comes to insurance reimbursements.
“If we need to fill out reports or deal with the federal government to get more Medicaid funding, we do that,” he told selectmen.
Kelleher also said the department has explored public/private partnerships like an arrangement to help staff the former COVID vaccine site at Gillette Stadium.
“They needed people to help with the vaccine so we were hiring firefighters from around the area, just like we would for a detail at Gillette Stadium,” he said of last spring’s collaboration with Transformative Healthcare (formerly Fallon Ambulance).
For its efforts, Foxboro received a 10-percent administrative fee.
“We billed almost a million dollars so we got about $100,000 in administrative fees back,” he explained.
Highlighting yet another challenge, Kelleher said the department has struggled since Norwood Hospital closed after being damaged by severe flooding in June 2020. The result, he said, has been longer, more time-consuming transport runs for emergency care.
“People didn’t stop going to the hospital when Norwood closed, they just go to other hospitals,” he said. From Foxboro, this typically means, Sturdy Memorial in Attleboro, Morton Hospital in Taunton, Good Samaritan in Brockton or Beth Israel/…….