Fire review fees proposed

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Englewood City Council is considering a proposal to impose fees for plan reviews for fire operational and construction permits.

Fire Chief Andy Marsh and Fire Marshal Laura Herblan presented the proposal to city council at the Sept. 9 study session.  It was the first time the proposal had been presented to the council and was an information-only session.

Councilmembers talked about the proposal and gave consensus approval for the fire department to continue to develop it. The final proposal will be presented to the council as a resolution, but the issue has not been placed on the agenda for an upcoming council meeting.

During the Sept. 9 discussion, Chief Marsh said there have been fees associated with review of some of the plans and permits. 

“But we are proposing continuing those fees plus establishing new permits and fees,” he said. “We are permitted to institute the fees in the city-adopted 2012 International Fire Code, which has the fire marshal reviewing more plans and permits and monitoring additional operations.”

The fire operation permits would be for projects such as sprinkler systems and fire alarms, Marsh said.

He added that the new fire permits would be coordinated with the building division so developers and builders still make only one stop at the building division to obtain the necessary permits or to arrange the plan reviews.

The fee schedule was proposed as a result of the assessment conducted by Herblan of existing fire prevention operations.

“I worked in special fire protection districts where there was a fee schedule for plan and permit reviews,” Herblan told the council. “The fees are proposed for commercial construction or remodeling projects. No fees are proposed for residential projects.”

Marsh said in the six months Herblan has been on the job as fire marshal, she found she was spending most of her time dealing with permit and plan reviews, so there was little time for other fire prevention duties.

“A survey of metropolitan area fire districts and departments showed that almost all of them had fees for fire service plan and permit reviews,” he said. We used the fees charged by the Littleton fire district as the basis for the fees we propose.”

Marsh said with the fire marshal currently spending most of her time on permit and plan reviews, plus the dramatic increase in construction and planned development projects, the demand for permit and plan reviews would only increase. Marsh said the department has been able to keep up with permit and plan reviews only by having one of the fire lieutenants work overtime on his day off. He said the fee proposal would raise about $100,000 and it would be much more efficient to use the money raised by the fees to hire an assistant fire marshal.

Marsh said the existing assistant fire marshal job description is outdated. So, one of the first orders of business will be to review the job descriptions and make changes necessary to spell out the skills an assistant fire marshal will be required to do.

He said hiring an assistant fire marshal will allow the fire marshal to

The proposal is to make the new fire plan and permit fee system effective Jan. 1. However, Marsh said a lot of work will have to be done in order to meet that effective date.

   

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