MBFD charging businesses for fire safety inspections

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Beginning today, The Myrtle Beach Fire Department is the first fire department in the state to charge a fee for fire safety inspections. Every year the fire department completes more than four thousand inspections, which drains thousands of dollars from the fire department's budget. So now the department's administration is trying something new:  the businesses will have to pick up the bill.

"I think it's not a good plan," said Juan Melendez, who works with Myrtle Beach businesses. "I believe that we're paying taxes, it should be covered with that. I don't think any extra charges are feasible for any business owner."

Most businesses are required to have fire and life safety inspections every year, but before it's been at no cost to the businesses. Call it growing pains, since Myrtle Beach has been growing so much, but now the fire department needs to charge to cover the costs for all the inspections. Plus WMBF News is told this will hold businesses more accountable when it comes to resident's and visitor's safety, since it affects money coming out of businesses bottom line.

Even though owners may think it's another cost forced on them, Myrtle Beach Fire Marshal Bruce Arnel insists this isn't meant to hurt business.

"This is not a penalty," said Arnel. "It's merely a cost recovery component to doing business and to ensure that their business is safe."

The fire fees range from $75 to $300, and it is based on how large the business is and how long it takes to pass inspection.

But business owners aren't the only ones having to deal with costs starting today, there's another change that even affects homeowners. Starting today, a new South Carolina Building Code requires certain homes, motels, and hotels to install a Carbon Monoxide Detector. This is for new homes with fuel burning appliances or that have an attached garage. For existing home-owners  thinking about renovating or building additions to their home, if it applies, then they will be required to get one too. When it comes to hotels, depending on the type, detectors may have to be installed in every guest room.

Inspectors plan to treat this code just like smoke detectors, which means it'll be required at safety inspections.

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