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Palmerton firefighters seek approval for live burn training

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    Palmerton Fire Chief Jason Behler talked to borough council about the possibility of conducting a live burn exercise at this double home, located directly next to the firehouse on Lehigh Avenue. DANIELLE DERRICKSON/TIMES NEWS

Published August 12. 2019 02:25PM


Residents concerned with a proposed live burn on Lehigh Avenue in Palmerton might want to attend the borough’s council meeting later this month.

On Thursday, council asked Palmerton Fire Chief Jason Behler to attend the next scheduled meeting to field questions about the burn, which would take place at 509 and 511 Lehigh Ave. The property, owned by the borough, is the site of a double home set to be demolished.

The request came after Behler approached council, asking for permission to conduct the burn. It would be a training exercise for local fire police.

Behler told council he knew some residents had concerns about the exercise, but added that it would be done under the supervision of certified instructors.

“This is all stuff — evolutions — that firefighters don’t normally get the chance to see or participate in until someone’s alarm goes off,” Behler said.

“I think this is a valuable tool,” he added.

Behler said the trainings would start in the attics of the three-story homes. Firefighters would descend from there, setting and putting out fires room by room until they hit the basement. By the end, the building would be structurally unstable.

The east side would then be burned, causing the west side to collapse into the basement. Tankers would be used to shuttle water to the site.

Behler said precautions would be taken to ensure the firehouse, located at 508 Fifth St., and adjacent residences were protected from the blaze.

He promised to come back to the next council meeting on Aug. 22.

“I’m a little better with this now that I’ve heard you speak,” Council President Terry Costenbader told Behler. “I’d like to think about it, at least until the next meeting. If there’s somebody that has a question, it will give them the opportunity at the next meeting to talk to you.”

Borough council meetings start promptly at 7 p.m.

In other business

• Council accepted the retirement of Sgt. Christopher Ritter of Palmerton Police. Ritter served on the force for just shy of 17 years. His last day is Sept. 3.

• Council approved a revised three-year contract with Teamsters Local 773, a labor union. The new agreement, which covers the borough’s public works employees, included a 3.5% raise for the first year, an extra sick day and a short-term disability benefit increase.


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