Amid concerns from businesses about “exorbitant” and “unreasonable” costs, Sen. Pete Reyes (Ind-Saipan) has prefiled a bill that would lower the Commonwealth Fire Division’s fire safety code permit from $500 to anywhere between $25 and $150, depending on the type of business.
Reyes said the flat fee of $500 is a “great financial burden to building and business owners,” and he proposes what he describes as “reasonable” fire safety code permit fees.
Under his Senate Bill 18-36, Reyes proposes a $25 fee for businesses with less than 10 employees, private schools, or any learning institution.
He proposes a $50 fee for a theater, hall, or other buildings for theatrical purposes, or for public entertainment.
For a garage or building for commercial repairing, cleaning, upkeep or storage of automobiles, trucks or gasoline engines, his proposed fee is $75.
Reyes said for hotels, motels and any other building or establishment not covered under Section 2 of his bill, the fee shall be $100.
The senator’s bill seeks a $125 fee for any business that distributes, stores, uses, or sells fireworks.
Lastly, the senator proposes a $150 fee for any business that distributes, stores, uses, or sells gasoline, diesel, or propane gas or any other type of gas.
Reyes said the fire chief is to charge the fees for the issuance of permits, review of plans and other procedures, “including but not limited to testing and certification of the fire alarm system.”
The Fire chief will have the task for coming up with regulations once the bill is signed into law.
Gov. Eloy S. Inos and the House Committee on Commerce separately said last week that they want to call in Department of Public Safety Commissioner James Deleon Guerrero and Fire chief Tom Manglona to clarify the implementation of the $500 fire safety code permit fee, amid concerns from small to large businesses about the “costly” fee and the ways in which Fire personnel are conducting their business visits.
The governor’s specific concerns include the permit cost, which he said is steep, and the night inspections, while his suggestions include making some “adjustments” for businesses with full fire insurance or imposing the fee in a gradual manner.
Some businesses interviewed said the Fire Division’s fire safety code permit and the Department of Public Works’ certificate of occupancy seem “overlapping” and “duplicative.”