Fire Inspections Possible Requirement in Lower Mac
Commissioners will write an ordinance to require inspections of businesses.
Lower Macungie Township Fire Inspector Ben Galiardo has seen his share of fires as both a firefighter and as an inspector during his many years of service to the township.
He attended the July 7 commissioners’ meeting with a proposal to institute a fire inspection program involving approximately 500 businesses that can be found throughout the township.
“I have seen code issues following a fire,” he said. “If a [business] inspection program would be in place, many of the fires could be prevented.”
Brent McNabb, assistant fire chief of the Lower Macungie Fire Department, agreed.
“There is a definite need in the township for this program. We need to do this as a safety issue,” McNabb said.
Galiardo has seen a potential for fires in businesses and nursing homes within the township but, at this time, can only suggest improvements. “I see deficiencies, but because there is no program in place, I cannot enforce violations," he said.
“I think we owe it our residents to have a program of fire safety,” Commissioner Ron Eichenberg agreed at the meeting.
According to Galiardo, inspections of businesses are already required in Upper Macungie Township, South Whitehall Township, Whitehall Township, Emmaus and Allentown.
“Basically, what happens is the fire inspector goes in with a checklist and notes any violations. He then returns in 30 days to re-inspect. If the violations are not fixed, the business is then faced with a fine," Galiardo said.
According to Grant Grim, fire inspector for Upper Macungie Township, the inspections work.
“Many wrongs have been righted,” he said. “In Upper Macungie, the program has decreased the number of false alarms, and has actually saved the businesses money.”
After lengthy discussion, the commissioners voted 3-2 to have an ordinance written, and to develop a fire inspection program for businesses within the township.
Commissioners Ryan Conrad, vice-president, and Joseph Pugliese both voted against the proposal. Galiardo shook his head in disappointment as they explained their decisions.
“I disagree with the necessity of burdening business owners with additional fees for the inspections. I also don’t think it should be a mandate,” Conrad said.
Pugliese, on the other hand, said, “I am opposed to putting a new ordinance together before discussion takes place. It seems a bit premature to put an ordinance together before we discuss what we want in it.”
He made it clear that he is not opposed to the inspections, but wants questions answered before ordering the businesses to pay for them.