Board approves rotating list of board-up contractors

By: Robert Guttersohn | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published December 21, 2012

MACOMB TOWNSHIP — The Township Board of Trustees approved at its Dec. 12 meeting a new house fire board-up policy for situations in which the homeowner cannot be reached.

The policy creates a rotating list of seven contractors who the township would call after a fire, if the homeowner is not available to contact their insurance company. The contractor the township would contact in that scenario would rotate monthly.

Fire Chief Robert Phillips said the change was needed because board-up services at the scene of a fire had become an issue.

“What tends to happen when these fires take place is, we get numerous contractors on scene who are trying to contact the homeowners,” Phillips said at the meeting. “Some tend to play on the emotions.”

Township Clerk Michael Koehs said, when he was part of the Sheriff’s Office, he often witnessed “ambulance chasing” by contractors. By setting up a rotating list of contractors, it essentially ends that practice in Macomb.

“Whenever the township has the ability to call a business out for service of some kind, every business wants us to call only them,” Koehs said. “So the board-up policy that we established is a policy with criteria, and they have to meet that criteria. If they do, they go on the list.”

The Fire Department sent a letter to 10 qualified vendors to be placed on the rotating list; seven responded, Phillips said.

After a fire, a home must be secured to avoid valuables inside from being stolen, Koehs said. He said, most of the time, the homeowner’s insurance has their own company they call to secure the home. But if the homeowner can’t be reached, the board-up responsibility falls to the township.

Koehs said the list also avoids favoritism from the township.

“To avoid that appearance of impropriety and all that other kind of stuff, we established this policy and rotating procedure,” Koehs said. “This spreads the wealth out to people that qualify.”