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Hempstead requires service stations to provide free air for tires

The Hempstead Town Board has approved a law mandating that all service stations provide free air to inflate automobile tires.

The “free air” law passed 5-0 Tuesday by the town requires service stations to not charge for air and to include pressure gauges after town officials cited safety concerns with underinflated tires.

Some service station owners criticized the law after the vote, criticizing the town for hurting small businesses and vowed to pursue a class-action lawsuit.

Town officials said the law follows a 1978 ordinance that required free air be available at service stations. Town Board members said they were closing a loophole in the law that allowed gas stations to charge for air if they still made it available for free “upon request.”

Board members said most gas stations charged for air and never added signage that said air was available for free.

“This amendment will make sure motorists will receive all the air they need to ride smoothly and safely throughout our town,” Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony Santino said. “This is just another step toward improving the quality of life in our town while also ensuring our laws are being followed. We expect no more excuses or evasive answers when motorists request air to properly inflate their tires.”

Board members held a public hearing in March where more than a dozen business owners and service industry groups spoke against the law, claiming it would reduce revenues and increase expenses for replacing or maintaining machines.

Businesses that do not comply with the ordinance could face a summons from the town. Fines for violating the air ordinance start at $1,000 for the first offense, up to $5,000 for the second offense and up to $10,000 for the third offense.

Town officials said they are notifying the Long Island Gasoline Retailers Association of the new law in order to make service stations throughout the town comply with the law.

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