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Why and for how long has the Wilmington Fire Department been charging for fire inspections?

Ken Little

Certain commercial properties like service stations and assembly places occupied by large numbers of people, such as night clubs, have been charged for fire inspections since the adoption of the N.C. Fire Code in 1992, says Battalion Chief and Fire Marshal Herman Born.

In an effort to create additional revenue for the general fund, the Wilmington City Council last year approved charging a fee for all business-related fire inspections.

The city council adopted a fee schedule that allows charging all businesses for fire inspections, as of July 1, 2009.

The fee schedule is based on the type of business and size of occupancy. “Mom and pop” businesses are the least expensive, at $45 per inspection, Born says.

Some business people are burned up about the fee. But most North Carolina cities of Wilmington’s size have adopted similar ordinances, Born says.

The revenue from inspecting permitted commercial properties, as the fire department has done since the 1990s, was about $50,000 a year. Inspections of all other businesses adds another $200,000 annually to city coffers, according to figures provided by the Wilmington Fire Department.

That means total annual revenue going to the city from fire inspections is about $250,000, Born says.

After a fire inspection, businesses receive an invoice from the city. The city collections department takes over if payment is not made, Born says.

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