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Oct 14,2010 Tri City News

Port Moody residents and business owners should brace themselves for new fire regulations and dozens more potential fees and fines if a new fire protection and emergency response bylaw is approved.

Moody council took a first look at the proposed bylaw at its committee of the whole meeting Tuesday and will revisit the suggestions proposed by the fire department at its Oct. 26 meeting.

The current bylaw is 20 years old and hasn't kept up to date with new building and fire code regulations, the city's deputy chief, Remo Faedo, explained. It also fails to take into account new costs the fire department has incurred for false alarms, repeat inspections, dealing with non-compliant property owners and keeping emergency vehicles on stand-by when required.

Although the new bylaw significantly updates and expands previous regulations, Faedo says it won't be used as a hammer but will instead give the fire department more opportunities to inform people about their responsibilities and more clout when faced with scofflaws.

"Our bylaw deals with what's currently going on in the city," he said. "It allows us to deal with the new issues and all we're looking for is compliance.

"We are going to be very judicious with the process," Faedo said, noting that while there are 62 fines in the proposed bylaw compared to seven currently, they will mostly be used to target repeat offenders and those who ignore basic requirements such as maintaining smoke alarms, rather than a mom with two kids who block fire access with their car for two minutes to run an errand.

"What's more effective for us is there's some cost recoveries in the bylaw," he said.

The new bylaw will recover firefighting costs from an individual found responsible for a fire and charge $200 for the third repeat false alarm in 12 months. But charges for re-inspections for business licences have been reduced from $60 to no charge for the first re-inspection and from $125 to $80 for the second re-inspection.

Faedo said the goal is to inform property owners, especially in the case of industrial, commercial and retail properties, of their responsibilities to keep their buildings safe with working fire alarms and sprinklers.

"What we're looking for is maintenance... Once in a while, we do come across someone that thinks the dollar is more important than public safety and we disagree with that."

He hopes the new fines will also impress upon people the importance of emergency lighting, keeping access routes clear, maintaining fire protection equipment and reporting fires. The fines in the new bylaw range from $100 for misuse of an extension cord to $250 for burning without a permit. Under the current bylaw, most of the fines are $100.

PoMo council still has to examine the bylaw more carefully and approve it before it will be in use. Faedo said efforts have been made to keep the regulations as simple and clear as possible, and expects the city's communication team will be engaged to help get the information out to property owners.

"We would like to get our new bylaw out to the community to have them read it and understand it so they know what's expected of them," Faedo said.

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