Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Fire inspection fees dropped for low-risk facilities

To ease the burden on mom and pop establishments, Largo is nixing mandatory fire inspection fees for low-risk facilities like offices, barber shops and markets.

Before, whether they had problems or not, most low-risk businesses had to pay from $35 to $75 for periodic fire inspections.

Tuesday, city commissioners unanimously approved code changes that end those fees. Commissioner Harriet Crozier was absent.

"It just seemed unfair," said Largo Fire Marshal Edward Mullins. "It just didn't seem right at this time."

Low-risk business owners won't be off the hook entirely. If inspectors find safety problems at low-risk buildings on their first visits, business owners won't be penalized, even if businesses need to be re-inspected. But if owners fail to fix problems, they will face fines. If safety issues aren't fixed after that, fines will be steeper. And businesses could be closed until dangerous violations are remedied.

High-risk structures, such as assisted living facilities, day care centers and hospitals, won't get the same break. The state requires annual inspections for most of them. And they tend to be more complex and time consuming, Chief Mike Wallace said.

Two years ago, fire officials said Largo's low-hazard buildings weren't getting enough attention, averaging just one inspection every six years. Largo Fire Rescue aimed to increase inspections to once every couple of years.

To do so, the department beefed up its fire inspection team, hiring four civilian inspectors. And the city began charging low-risk businesses for initial inspections to cover costs of increased inspections.

But the fees never fully covered costs and caused ill will, Mullins said.

Business owners would complain that they hadn't seen inspectors in years and all of a sudden they were getting bills, he said.

And city leaders got an earful, too, Mayor Pat Gerard and Vice Mayor Gigi Arntzen said.

"We're trying to encourage business development," Gerard said. "Why do we want to make them all mad?"

Last year, the city collected about $83,000 in inspection fees.

The department isn't sure how much revenue it will lose. There's no way to determine how many businesses will require additional inspections, fire officials say.

In other action, city commissioners approved changes to its comprehensive plan, which outlines the type of development allowed in each part of the city. The plan includes initiatives to develop stronger neighborhoods, be more environmentally friendly, provide quality services and support the city's long-term land-use goals.

Fast facts

Fire inspections

New policies for fire inspection fees for low-risk facilities:

Initial inspection: No charge

Followup inspection/violations fixed: No charge

Followup inspection/violations not fixed: $75 or $112.50 depending on the size of the building

Third inspection/violations not fixed: $100 or $150 depending on the size of the building.

Fire inspection fees dropped for low-risk facilities 12/02/08 [Last modified: Friday, December 5, 2008 8:16pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa Bay Super Bowls: A brief history and some predictions for 2021

    Bucs

    At last, Tampa will host a Super Bowl again. It used to be that the Cigar City would host one a decade, but by the time February 2021 rolls around, it will have been 12 years since the epic showdown between the Steelers and Cardinals. Because it has been awhile, let's revisit those past Super Bowls while also peering …

    Santonio Holmes hauls in the game-winning touchdown in the Steelers' 27-23 Super Bowl XLIII victory over the Cardinals in 2009, the last time Tampa hosted a Super Bowl. [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times]
  2. Rays bats go silent in second straight loss to Angels (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Sure, Alex Cobb was to blame for the Rays' 4-0 loss on Tuesday.

    Derek Norris strikes out with the bases loaded as the Rays blow a golden opportunity in the seventh inning.
  3. Analysis: Manchester attack was exactly what many had long feared

    World

    LONDON — For Britain's security agencies, London always seemed like the likely target. For years, the capital of 8 million with hundreds of thousands of weekly tourists and dozens of transit hubs had prepared for and feared a major terror attack.

  4. Dade City man dies after crashing into county bus, troopers say

    Public Safety

    ZEPHYRHILLS — A 38-year-old man died Tuesday after colliding into the rear of a county bus on U.S. 301, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

  5. Suspicious device at Pinellas Park home was a spent artillery round, police say

    Public Safety

    PINELLAS PARK — Bomb squad investigators determined that a "suspicious device" found at a Pinellas Park home Tuesday afternoon was a spent artillery round, police said.