At the District's April 12, 2022, Regular Board Meeting, the Board of Directors voted to approve an increase in the Fire Prevention Bureau Hourly Rates, which will go into effect on January 1, 2023.
In order to provide advance notice of the changes to occur next year, the District Fire Chief and Fire Marshal noticed hundreds of property owners/management agencies/landlords regarding the increase, setting the production rate for the Fire Prevention Bureau at $183.19, up from the previous production rate of $149.37. The notification has resulted in questions as to how the increase was determined and what the end result will look like in the Schedule of Fees.
Authorization to Charge
California Health and Safety Code (HSC) Section 17921(b) defines the requirements for what local fire agencies (by the authority of the State Fire Marshal) must inspect on an annual basis. HSC Section 13146.2 explains that an inspecting agency has the authority to collect a fee for the required inspections.
The Arcata Fire District Board adopted Ordinance 19-18, which includes a schedule of fees and charges that the District is authorized to charge for services. The fees charged for inspections are related to "actual costs" of recovery. The Fire Prevention Bureau Fee Worksheet is available for viewing in the sidebar to the right.
Schedule of Fees Changes
At this time, the Schedule of Fees has not yet been updated to include the increase in the Prevention Bureau rates. This will not occur until sometime in late summer or early fall. The Schedule of Fees is an Exhibit to the Ordinance referenced above and, in order to update it, the District must follow public processes. The topic will run across two regularly scheduled Board meetings, with required public notices before and in between meetings. Being that this process is conducted publicly anyone is welcome to attend meetings and/or provide comments to the Board on the topic. Every effort will be made to keep property owners updated as the process goes along.
The updated schedule must be adopted by the Board no later than 60 days before it is to take effect.
Method of Recovery
In an effort to recover actual costs for the state-mandated inspections, the Arcata Fire District Fire Inspectors record time spent during an inspection of the defined structures, which include apartment buildings, hotels, and motels. The owner of the property is then invoiced by a second-party company that the District has contracted with to recover said costs. Fire Recovery USA has been granted permission to collect fees on our behalf.
Invoices may be emailed or sent by regular mail, depending on the contact information available to the Inspectors. Property owners will also receive regular reminders to pay, also via mail, email, and even text message. Fire Recovery USA is based out of Roseville, California, therefore that is the location your payment is mailed to. Their invoices also include the option to pay with a credit card, which is a safe option when you use the links provided.
Invoices may also be issued for the collection of mitigation fees related to traffic collisions and vehicle fires.
Please feel free to contact the District Administrative office if you have any questions about the fee recovery process.