Lehigh Valley

Snow, salt and fire: Hot topics in Palmer Township

New ordinances for fire safety inspections, snow emergencies on the horizon.

PALMER TWP. Pa. - Fire and ice were topics for discussion Monday night in Palmer Township, Northampton County.

Fire Commissioner Stephen Gallagher updated supervisors on changes he would like to see requiring inspections of all commercial and industrial buildings -- all 400 of them.

And even though temperatures were in the 80s, the supervisors discussed changes to the township's snow emergency and severe weather ordinance, which basically means don't park on main roads whenever there's a lot of snow or nasty weather like floods or tornadoes.

The exact language is being reviewed by solicitor Charles Bruno for a vote by the supervisors later this month.

In another winter-related theme, the pad has been laid for a $380,000 salt storage building near the proposed public works facility on Hartley Avenue, ready to store up to 1,800 tons of salt compared with the 600 tons the old building held.

It's expected to open in November.

The fire inspection proposal has been in the hands of Pennsylvania Labor and Industry officials in Harrisburg since March and the township is waiting for a response, Gallagher said.

If Harrisburg signs off on the plan, the next step would rest with the supervisors.

Under the proposed plan, office buildings would be inspected once every three years, restaurants, hotels and motels once a year and industrial buildings every other year, Gallagher said.

Chairman David E. Colver called the plan "a work in progress," adding, "it's going to financially affect small businesses."

Supervisor Jeffrey Young echoed that thought.

"Keep in mind we have a lot of small businesses in the township," Young told Gallagher.

Gallagher, the former fire marshal in Bethlehem Township, said poorly maintained fire extinguishers in buildings are the most common problem that he sees in inspections, and the easiest to correct.

His checklist includes about 90 items, depending on the size and type of building.

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