Letters to the Editor: February 5, 2014

Time to re-eval­u­ate va­cant build­ing fires

Fires at large va­cant build­ings are killers. 

These blazes cause more fire­fight­er in­jur­ies than in any oth­er prop­erty clas­si­fic­a­tion and they can kill the fab­ric of our neigh­bor­hoods.

Va­cant build­ing fires are of­ten in­cen­di­ary or sus­pi­cious. These struc­tures are tar­gets for kids, van­dals, drug-users and the home­less.

Aban­doned large build­ings put fire­fight­ers at ex­tra risk. Stripped of wir­ing, pipes and oth­er com­pon­ents for scrap, they of­ten con­tain open shafts or pits, be­com­ing man­traps or al­low­ing fires to spread rap­idly.

On April 9, 2012, at 3:13 a.m., a fire broke out in an aban­doned, six-story ho­siery ware­house at York and Jasper streets. The ware­house covered more than half a block. The Phil­adelphia Fire De­part­ment pulled five alarms and the fire was placed un­der con­trol after a little more than two hours. Sadly, Lt. Robert Neary and Fire­fight­er Daniel Sweeney, both of the Fire De­part­ment’s Lad­der 10 sta­tion, died when a wall col­lapsed and bur­ied them while bat­tling the blaze. Two oth­er fire­fight­ers sur­vived, but were in­jured in the col­lapse. 

The Na­tion­al In­sti­tute for Oc­cu­pa­tion­al Safety and Health re­cently re­leased an in­vest­ig­at­ive re­port in­to the blaze that found eight con­trib­ut­ing factors to the deaths of Lt. Neary and Fire­fight­er Sweeney. 

I’ve in­tro­duced an or­din­ance that will take steps to re­duce fire­fight­er, oth­er first re­spon­der and com­munity risks as cited by NIOSH. I seek to amend The Phil­adelphia Fire Code, by provid­ing re­quire­ments to cre­ate a va­cant prop­erty task force charged with com­pil­ing an in­vent­ory and data­base of such prop­er­ties. It also calls for an in­spec­tion team with spe­cif­ic re­spons­ib­il­it­ies when eval­u­at­ing aban­doned and va­cant build­ings, struc­tures and premises.

I be­lieve this or­din­ance is a sorely needed and pro­act­ive step in the right dir­ec­tion.

Den­nis M. O’Bri­en


Learn the cor­rect way to shovel, Park­wood

What part of “Do not put snow back in the street” do you people in Park­wood not un­der­stand?

Every time we have a de­cent amount of snow, there go the same few pin­heads shov­el­ing it all back in­to the street after a plow has already been through.  

Hello! The plow comes through to re­move the snow so drivers can drive down the street.

Last I checked, it is sup­posed to be a $300 fine. So why are the fines not be­ing dis­trib­uted? I would think after the may­or said it over and over again, maybe the cops would do their job and is­sue these fines.

Their ex­cuse, which is al­ways the same for not re­spond­ing, will prob­ably be “there are more im­port­ant things to at­tend to.” 

Well, I beg to dif­fer, of­ficers.  

Have you ever driv­en in­to any of these piles? You are totally blind­sided, es­pe­cially when the vis­ib­il­ity is close to zero. On my street alone, I’ve seen people spin­ning out and al­most hit­ting people, or oth­er cars get­ting stuck, etc. What about the 20 bus route down Med­ford Road? One time I drove down Med­ford Road after a snow storm and there were four men throw­ing snow back out in the street, even hit­ting passing cars. It totally didn’t mat­ter. I’m sur­prised there wer­en’t any ac­ci­dents.   

Are you wait­ing for someone to get ser­i­ously hurt or killed by these piles be­fore you take ac­tion? 

Ask­ing people nicely not to do this falls on deaf ears. Yes, these people are that ar­rog­ant.

I think if the of­ficers of the 8th Po­lice Dis­trict, and oth­ers alike, would start hand­ing out fines, just maybe these selfish, self-ab­sorbed res­id­ents will get the mes­sage. I’m sorry, but we don’t pay taxes to have snow re­mov­al from our streets just so these idi­ots can shovel it all back again. Hav­ing a con­sid­er­able amount of snow in the city is stress­ful enough.

Hint to the guilty: You can tell who they are be­cause you will see the street in front of their house still has all this snow, while the rest of the street is clear. 

Di­ane Mc­Dow­ell


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