Board tables ‘Life Safety’ ordinance

Chadds Ford Township supervisors Wednesday night tabled a decision on enacting Ordinance 155, termed Life Safety. The proposal would authorize the township fire marshal to enter rental residential properties to inspect for fire code violations.

The fire marshal already inspects commercial properties.

During a brief hearing before the start of the regular June meeting, Cathy Taylor, a resident from Oakland Road, expressed concern over the wording of the ordinance, saying it could be construed as a violation of Fourth Amendment guarantees.

The ordinance says, in part that “the Fire Marshal may enter any public or private non-residential building used for any business, commercial or industrial purpose, any apartment or long or short-term residential dwelling unit, for the purpose of making an inspection for the prevention of fire and to secure the safety of persons and property from fire.”

Taylor said that wording needs to be clarified because it could be interpreted to mean “any owner-occupied home — there are 1,371 in the township — as well as rental units. She said the sentence should specify “residential rental unit.”

Based on that objection, Supervisors Frank Murphy and Noelle Barbone agreed to table a vote on the ordinance until the June 27 work session. (Supervisor Samantha Reiner did not attend the June 6 meeting.)

Among the items to be inspected are:

  1. Presence and proper operation of emergency lighting.
  2. Presence and accessibility of emergency exits, egress and fire escapes.
  3. Presence and property operation of fire alarm systems.
  4. Presence and property operation of fire extinguishers.
  5. Proper storage of explosives and flammable materials and liquids.
  6. Means of egress consistent with Section 702 of the 2018 International Property Maintenance Code.

The ordinance also calls for fees for the inspections. No dollar amount is specified in 155, but that the fees shall be set by the Board of Supervisors. The ordinance also sets forth other requirements of the fire marshal.

Other Business

• Supervisors gave $2,500 checks to the Chadds Ford Civic Association and to the Christian Sanderson Museum.

Sanderson curator Chuck Ulmann said the money comes at a good time because the building, on Creek Road, needs some work.

• Murphy, in a follow-up to a request last week from the Rachel Kohl Library, said the township will double its contribution next year. The library needs to upgrade its HVAC system and is requesting a one-time extra donation from each of the municipalities it serves.

• Township engineer Mike Schneider said he and Township Manager Matt DiFilippo attended a pre-construction meeting in Concord Township with PennDOT and representatives from Pettinaro Construction regarding the Shops at Ridge Road development. He said work on Route 202 is expected to begin in July, but work on Ridge Road is not expected to start this summer.

Schneider added that he would have a fuller report once Pettinaro prepares its work schedule.

 

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About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.

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