The idea that the fire service should try to recoup the costs of attending road accidents has been ruled out by Hertfordshire County Council.

Every year the Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service attend around 460 traffic collisions on the county’s roads.

The costs incurred in freeing passengers from wreckage, and from clearing spills and debris from the roads are met by Hertfordshire County Council, in its role as fire authority.

Earlier this month the county council agreed to investigate whether the costs could be met from elsewhere, following a call by Cllr Richard Smith.

But at a meeting of the full council last Tuesday, executive member for community safety and waste management Cllr Terry Hone ruled it out.

In response to a question by Cllr Smith, Cllr Hone said responding to road accidents was a core function of the fire and rescue service.

And he said the fire service was not permitted to charge for rescuing individuals or protecting them from serious harm in the event of an emergency.

Following the meeting a spokesperson for Hertfordshire County Council said: “Following the suggestion at cabinet panel that the Fire and Rescue Service should consider charging for attendance at road traffic accidents, the issue has been investigated and legal advice sought.

“The Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004 states that it is a core function of a fire and rescue authority that they rescue people and prevent people from serious harm in the event of road traffic accidents.

“It also states that the authority cannot charge for rescuing individuals, or protecting individuals from serious harm, in the event of an emergency, including road traffic accidents.”