The Gerrittsen Beach Volunteer Fire Department was recently surprised by $520 bill for inspection of the Blue Star Mothers Hall. The Blue Star Mothers Hall is where the “Volleys” hold most of their training for the community. In June 2009, the City Council enacted legislation as part of the Ficsal year 2010 budget package to amend the New York City Fire Code to limit the exemption from fees for Fire Department permits, inspections, and witnessing of required system performance tests. This “fee” has long been in place but many groups, including the Vollies, have always been exempted. The whole point of removing that exemption and assessing this fee, was to raise money to prevent the closure of any FDNY firehouses.
Our City Councilman Lew Fidler has said “To impose a fee that was intended to help keep firehouses open on Volunteer Firefighters is not only ironic, but wrong headed. Our community in particular knows the important work the Vollies do at no cost to the City. Putting unnecesary burdens on them that endanger their ability to continue is foolish.” The Councilman is going to introduce legislation that would exempt the Vollies, and similar volunteer services, from this fee in the future. They have submitted the paperwork to start the legislative process for it earlier this morning!
Effective June 29, 2009, Fire Code Section FC117.2.1 exempts from such fees only premises predominantly used by a religious or educational institution for the following purposes:
(1) A house of worship, or dwelling units for members of the clergy which are situated on or adjacent to the same premises as the house of worship; or
(2) A school accredited by the State of New York providing kindergarten through twelfth grade education.