More fire inspections to boost revenue for JFRD

City plans to inspect businesses yearly

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Lt. Alvin Floyd is one of three firefighters whose job it is to inspect every business in Jacksonville.

He checked out the Londontowne Apartments on the Westside on Monday to make sure it met code with smoke detectors and that fire extinguishers were charged and ready for use.

These safety inspections are suppose to take place every year at Jacksonville businesses, but with just 12 inspectors, the city was lucky to do it once every eight years.

Because the city is paid for each inspection, the thought now is to increase the number of inspections each year to bring in more revenue for the city -- about $2 million worth.

"What we are doing is, we are going to inspect businesses once a year," Fire Chief Marty Senterfitt said Friday.

Many small business owners say they don't argue that safety is important, but they are already inspected by the state, and it seems some inspections can be redundant.

For instance, Channel 4's studios recently had a fire inspection of its alarm system. It's done by a private company and is required once a year. But the city is due back to the building soon for its own inspection.

Small business owners like Bo Palmer, who owns a barbershop, says it's the cost of doing business, but sometimes the small guy gets caught up in it.

"People in business today are having it hard," Palmer said. "I don't know why you want to dig somebody that is in business. I think there are ways to raise more money that would cover the blanket. Everybody would pay a little more than just small business, because there is a lot of small business in this town and country that are just barely breaking even."

Palmer's customers agree.

"I think there are better ways for the city to make money," Steve Cortney said. "They are always raising other taxes. It just seems kind of odd they would use this kind of premise to do fire inspections to increase revenue. That sounds kind of odd."

"Just maybe if they didn't buy a $300 million courthouse they would have more money," Palmer said.

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