Forced Fire Suppression Charges Coming to Somerville

By William Tauro

Just when we thought it was safe to go back into the water again, proposed fire suppression charges are on the way to reach into the taxpayers pockets.

The proposed fire suspension charges are on the way to charge property owners that have a fire suppression system. The charges are based on the thickness of the pipe. The bigger the pipe, the more you will have to shell out and pay.

According to sources we have been told that this is the brainchild of Somerville Water and Sewer Department Director John DeLuca who has proposed this ridiculous new cash grab from the taxpayers already emptied pockets where he has been done this before in other cities where they have shamefully gotten away with it.

An example in the chart listed below shows the charges. If you take for example a basic 4” fire suppression pipe coming into your property, note that was required and forced down property owners throats by the city, you will have to pay according to the charts a whopping $1,200.00 per year to the city. If you have a 6” pipe you’ll be paying $2,480.00, an 8”pipe you’ll be paying $3,968.00 and a 10 inch pipe you’ll be shelling out $6,200.00 per year to the city.

What is a fire suppression charge?:

A fire suppression charge is a fee from the City of Somerville Water department that applies to buildings that have fire service lines that rely on the City’s water system.

Fire service lines are pipes that run from the City water main in the street into a building or property for the sole purpose of supplying water to fire sprinkler systems.  This is a service which the large majority of water system customers do not receive.

Currently, while the subset of customers who have fire suppression connections receive the financial benefit of this service (through reduced fire insurance costs), the City does not recover the costs of providing fire suppression service from fire suppression customers. Rather those costs are currently recovered through system-wide water usage (volumetric) charges to all users.  Like a highway toll, the fire suppression charge will shift the cost of this service to those who receive the benefit.

How can I tell if I have to pay a fire suppression charge?:

If you do not have a fire suppression system (e.g., a fire sprinkler), you will not receive a fire suppression charge from the City.  If you have a fire suppression system, you should have received a Cross-Connection Inspection Report from the Water Department. If you are unsure if you have a fire suppression system, please call the water department at (617) 625-6600 ext. 5850.

How much is the fire suppression charge?:

Fire suppression charges are based on the size of the fire service pipe that serves a property.

To determine the size of the pipe in a fire suppression system, customers may consult their latest Cross-Connection Inspection Report. If you have questions about the size of your fire service pipe or you have not received a Cross-Connection Inspection Report, please call the water department at (617) 625-6600 ext. 5850.

How does the City determine the size of a fire service pipe?:

An audit of fire service lines that serve fire suppression systems was performed over the past year to determine the size of each fire service pipe.

Who is required to have a fire suppression system?:

Fire suppression system requirements are regulated by the Massachusetts Building Code and Fire code. Most forms of new building construction are required to install a fire suppression system. The size of a pipe for fire suppression systems is regulated by the Massachusetts Building Code and corresponds to the function and size of a given property. The pipe is sized to ensure an adequate volume of water in the event of a fire.

Why is the water department charging for a fire suppression system?:

The fire suppression charge is a common way that municipalities ensure that customers receiving these additional benefits contribute financially to pay for the cost the City incurs in providing those benefits.

In addition, property owners with fire service connections receive the benefit of immediate access to large volumes of unmetered water to protect their buildings and occupants from fire. Buildings with fire suppression sprinklers tend to receive lower insurance rates, which can help offset the cost of fire suppression charges.

Which other local cities and towns charge for fire suppression systems?:

Cambridge, Boston, Arlington, Framingham, Springfield, Norton, Andover, and Watertown all charge a similar fire suppression fee.

4 thoughts on “Forced Fire Suppression Charges Coming to Somerville”

  1. OK, this is just asinine.

    Essentially, the city is now going to charge people an ongoing fee for the “privilege” of having the life-safety feature (sprinklers) that the city required them to have in the first place. Never mind the facts that 1) the building owner paid out of his/her own pocket to connect the sprinkler system to the water main in the street, and 2) practically speaking, that sprinkler system will never draw water from the water system. Essentially, fire sprinklers cost the city absolutely nothing to install, maintain, or supply with water. There’s no meter to read, and it basically never uses water. It’s money for nothing.

    The rationale, as explained in the bizarre letter above, goes something like this: “Your insurance rates went down because you have a safer building. You have a safer building because we made you spend an absolute crapload of money to install a fire sprinkler system. Therefore we deserve your insurance discount instead of you”. Seriously, this is the logic.

    What’s next? How about if the police department implemented a tax surcharge to any homeowner of a demographic that’s more likely to result in 911 calls? How about a tax surcharge on married couples because they’re more likely to have (someday) school age children, resulting in added cost to the city? An ongoing surcharge on curb cuts because they can’t count on ticket revenue from your car parked in the driveway?

    Water department, I’m calling you on this BS. If your way of solving your money woes is to devise intellectually dishonest schemes like this to stick huge fees to a small number of property owners (ie low # of voters…) then you are spineless scumbags.

  2. This is just more Curtatone Cronyism. I’m sick of that a$$hole. He’s never met a tax increase he didn’t like. Those wannabe socialists are going to vote him out of office anyway. He’s dumber than he looks. Too much time in the tanning bed has zapped his brain.

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