Is fire marshal’s fee legal?
Apr 25, 2012 | 780 views | 1 1 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print

This new $75 fee that is all of a sudden imposed on the already strapped businesses by our new fire marshal here in Beeville needs a little review. I have some questions — is this fee for an inspection mandated by the city, county or state? Don’t we already have a city inspector who does this job? Is this a voluntary inspection that a business would ask the fire marshal to come do for safety/insurance reasons and, if so, if he’s not asked to come, is it mandatory? If it is mandatory, isn’t that just another tax and shouldn’t the funding be coming from the city or county?

I admire the fire marshal for wanting to start a new business here in town, but I think it’s misleading to business owners who are told that these inspections will lower the price of their insurance. That’s like believing that buying a hybrid car is going to lower the price of gas. It’s not!

As I understand the article in the newspaper (April 18 issue), this fee is simply to support this new business. It goes straight into the fire marshal’s pocket. That’s a pretty good salary at $75 or more per each business in this county. And I understand that a member of the Beeville Volunteer Fire Department (BVFD) will do the same inspection for $12.50. If a member of the BVFD does it for less, does the business owner have a choice as to whom he wants to inspect his building?

Another question — if the BVFD is responsible for bringing the ISO rating down for the city, why does the business owner have to pay a fee for something he has no control over? Don’t our taxes and volunteer fundraisers, such as the one being held this month by the Devil Woman Saloon, go to support our BVFD?

And, contrary to our county judge, a tax by any other name is still a tax. If this is going to be a yearly fee, then, in reality, it’s just another tax; it is just collected by an individual who puts it in his pocket instead of the local government that uses it to support our government functions.

And when was the last time a business caught on fire here in Beeville? I have been here for 20 years, and can’t recall a business burning down to the ground. I could be wrong. I do suffer from CRS at this age, but someone refresh my memory. Why is this all of a sudden a problem here in our city?

I think this new fee imposed by someone, who just quit their job and is looking for a way to make a living on the backs of businesses that are already struggling, needs to be clarified and determined whether it’s a legal fee or not. A Google search implies that this is normally contracted out through insurance companies.

These are legitimate questions, and I don’t believe I am the only one asking.

Armando Musquez
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April 26, 2012
I agree with Mr Musquez, if the County wants to hire a Fire Marshall they should fund the position. At least this way the burden isn't placed on struggling small business owners. It's just not fair!