Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Absurditites in Absurd Cities

The word came down the other day that several communities which we protect want to start charging an "inspection fee" for fire inspections performed by fire suppression crews. As fire prevention is one of our functions, these communities feel that it is a way to fund part of the cost of providing service.

Needless to say, I was less than enthusiastic about the prospect of showing up at a business, announcing my presence, then holding my hand out and asking for payment. Of course, it is doubtful that any money would be collected at the time of inspection , but knowing that  a fee would be collected for a service which we have provided for free does not set well with me.

After my initial indignation wore off, I did some research and found that the practice is not as uncommon as I had originally thought. Numerous communities throughout the country are currently charging these fees. Although the practice appears to more common in medium to large cities, several smaller cities and some county fire departments are getting into the pockets of businesses as well.

One city that I found which charges inspection fees actually performs inspections twice per year. I wonder if the inspection frequency increased the year that inspection fees were introduced?

Although the fees appear to be small in most cases, I am sure they will go up as time goes on. I have never seen a fee or tax go down in my thirty years working in government. With increased pressure on budgets, it will be hard for administrators to "just say no" and resist the temptation to increase fees.

At what point will local businesses become burdened with these types of fees and taxes to the point of saying "no mas" and actively take on the locality to fight for less service, not more? The fire service has traditionally been viewed as one that has been "givers" not "takers". This move is one that would shift us farther away from being a true public service and closer to being yet another revenue generating DMV-esque type bureaucracy. We all know how much the public loves the DMV.

I hope that this does not come to pass, though I am confident that it will. There is money involved after all.

Thansk fo reading,


  1. " I have never seen a fee or tax go down in my thirty years working in government."

    I know a bridge in marco island, fl that used to be a toll bridge to collect the money needed to build it. once that had been collected, the tolls went away!

    Sadly, that's the only instance I can think of.

  2. Capt. Schmoe:
    Cities need money much? Sheesh. KCMO has proposed charging for reinspection of property that had codes issues corrected. Vote no. Throw the bums out!
    The Observer, getting fed up

  3. Dear Captain Schmoe,
    They would be better off charging for the "re-inspection" visit 2 weeks after not passing the free first inspection.

    The inspection by itself (I speak from experience on the customer end) may raise awareness but it doesn't ensure compliance. Re-inspection fees and fines afterward is a way to ensure compliance.

    These jerks in public office need to think past the money and set it up so that the original purpose of the activity is not violated. They are being dumb.

    The re-inspection fee should be small and the fine huge. Relatively speaking, by number of floors or whatever.

    Ann T.