Sunday, February 16, 2014

Showdown over fire inspections

Ryan Stanton has an interesting article on the showdown between local real estate tycoon, Ed Shaffran, and the city Fire Marshall's office over fire inspections of Shaffran's properties. My reading of the article is that Shaffran is upset at 1) an increased frequency in fire inspections, 2) the fees associated with the inspections and 3) that he has to meet 2009 fire codes even though he purchased and renovated his buildings in 1995. Here are some of my thoughts on those points.

1) remember last January when there were two apartment fires, one at 401 Division and one at 1310 Packard? It turned out that the most recent fire inspections of the buildings had turned up fire safety violations. Maybe an increased frequency of inspections isn't a bad idea.

2) The fees don't seem that bad. From the article:

...there's a $690 base fee for a building that's 20,001 to 50,000 square feet, and $1,290 for a building that's 100,000 to 250,000 square feet. If there are multiple tenants, there are additional fees that amount to $120 per tenant space, or $60 if a space is less than 400 square feet.
That doesn't seem that bad. As for the accusation of "double dipping" by charging per tenant space fees, it seems to me, that fire inspectors likely have separate check lists for each tenant space so the fees seem to be based on the amount of work required to inspect each property.

3) Maybe I could get some help from the all the lawyers out there, but I believe there is a vested public safety interest in buildings not burning down. Hasn't our whole experiment with fire codes and fire inspections been tested in court? Is the city worried that it is on shaky legal ground with it's fire inspection regime? Can't they get a court order compelling Shaffran to let inspectors onto his properties?

Gentle readers, do you have any insight into this matter?

1 comment:

  1. The International Fire Code, 2009 has been published here

    The relevant city ordinance is ORD-13-16

    also found now on a2docs: