Salisbury Press

Monday, January 21, 2019


Thursday, May 3, 2018 by Paul Willistein in Local News

Fire inspectors played increasing role in enforcement

Last of four parts

After five years, Salisbury Township fire inspectors appear to be taking on increasing key roles in ensuring public safety, including assisting the police department with victim rescue first-aid and during potential active shooter and hostage situations.

Fire inspections increased in Salisbury Township in 2017. The program ran a deficit in 2017. Fire inspection fees have been increased in 2018.

There were 364 fire inspections in 2017, up from 356 fire inspections in 2016 and 296 in 2015.

There were 132 fire calls inspectors responded to in 2017, down from 143 fire responses in 2016 and up from 116 in 2015.

In 2016, fire inspectors drove and-or staffed Eastern Salisbury Fire Company units 25 times and Western Salisbury Fire Company units one time. That information was not included in the 2017 annual police report.

There were 52 public complaint responses in 2017, a category not listed in the 2016 and 2015 annual township police reports.

Salisbury Township Chief of Police Allen W. Stiles released the annual year in review report to township commissioners and the media.

The Salisbury Township Police Department provides annual fire safety-life safety inspections in the township. The fire safety program was created by a township ordinance in 2013.

Fire District 59 (Salisbury Township) was created within the office of the state fire commissioner, Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, Lehigh County and federal entities.

The township police department fire marshal and fire inspection program supervisor is Sgt. Donald Sabo Jr.

The five part-time township fire inspectors under the township police department administration are Dustin Grow, Dev Kannan, Kyle Mertl, Matthew Griffin and Thomas Hart.

The cost of the fire inspection program was $59,654, with $44,654 of that in part-time salaries and $15,000 in administration and training costs in 2017, up from $50,088, with $37,088 in part-time salaries and $13,000 in administration and training costs in 2016 and $43,517.50, with $39,017.50 in part-time salaries and $4,500 in administration and training costs in 2015.

Fire inspection fee revenue was $41,255 in 2017, up from $36,945 in 2016 and $34,435 in 2015.

Based on revenue and expense figures in the annual police report, the fire inspection program had an $8,399 deficit in 2017.

Township commissioners voted unanimously 5-0 to approve a resolution to increase the fire inspection fees at the March 22 township meeting. Fees have increased from $10 to $100. New fees went into effect after commissioners’ approval.

According to the annual police report, “During 2017, our fire inspectors continued our community outreach, fire prevention and Knox-Box projects. The inspectors received additional tools and equipment.”

A Knox-Box is a wall-mounted safe which holds building keys for fire departments, emergency medical services and police to retrieve in emergency situations. Fire departments hold master keys to boxes in their response area, so personnel can quickly enter a building without having to force entry.

“The inspectors participated in new building plans reviews and CodeMaster reviews for possible fire safety-life issues.

“They continued a coordinated effort with Lehigh County Emergency Dispatch to update the computer-aided dispatch program to include fire hazards and life-safety hazards throughout Salisbury Township.

“Fire inspectors participated in several training sessions, including naloxone hydrochloride injection for opioid overdoses, fire inspector 2 certification, hazmat safety officer, sprinkler system inspections, tactical casualty care and active shooter drills.

“The fire inspectors and township emergency management personnel are continuing to participate in tactical-response training to assist the police department with victim rescue and first-aid during active shooter and hostage situations.”

According to the annual fire inspection report, “Coordination of services is still the primary goal, and great effort has been made to organize, plan for and mitigate hazards in Salisbury Township.

“Both volunteer fire departments helped accomplish our goals to streamline services and resources in Salisbury Township. Joint standard operating procedures have been started and coordinated response to emergency calls has been a success,” the report noted.

“A joint training venture with Eastern Salisbury Fire Department and Western Salisbury Fire Department saved the township budgetary funds.

“We want to continue the consolidation of funding to assist in savings for township.

“Combined purchases have also been made to reduce redundancy and show a cost savings.

“A township-wide map system was implemented and map books were issued to all departments, including both fire stations and several mutual-aid districts.

“The inspectors continue to expand the Knox-Box installation project and most of the township businesses received their boxes.”

The animal control officer report for 2017 and 2016 was not included in the township police report because of the death of Animal Control Officer Charles Durner Jr.

In September 2016, Rocket became the new township K-9 patrol dog, replacing Fonzie. Senior Patrol Officer Jason Laky is the partner of Rocket, who completed training and certification in 2016. The first Salisbury police department K-9 unit went into service in May 2003.

The K-9 Unit is credited with taking more than $40,000 in illegal drugs off the street, according to the annual report. The township K-9 Unit is funded by the Lehigh County District Attorney office, Salisbury Township and township citizens.

In 2017, there were 134 archery permits issued, down from 140 archery permits issued in 2016 and 155 issued in 2015.

Archery permits were issued to 26 township residents, down from 32 residents in 2016 and 29 residents in 2015.

Archery permits were issued to 108 nonresidents in 2017, identical to 108 nonresidents in 2016 and down from 126 nonresidents in 2015.

There was one junior hunting permit issued in 2017, down from three in 2017 and three in 2015.

One junior hunting permit was issued to a resident in 2017, down from two residents in 2016 and no residents in 2015.

No junior hunting permits were issued to nonresidents in 2017, down from one nonresident in 2016 and three nonresidents in 2015.