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Fires to furnaces - Norwalk council busy

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:06 PM

Norwalk Council's safety committee has more work to do regarding a new fire station and council will also continue the discussion on exterior furnaces.

"We have more research to do," said Mayor Sue Lesch after the meeting about the safety committee regarding a new fire station. "The conversation was about staffing."

Recommended staffing regulations require a two-in, two-out scenario for on-scene response, but local firefighters say that is difficult to fulfill. Two-in, two-out requires at least four firefighters on the scene so two firefighters can enter a burning building and two are outside to monitor the situation and provide backup. Staffing recommendations also requires another firefighter to remain at the station to handle other calls.

Fire Chief Doug Colleta said Norwalk would have to hire more firefighters to meet the recommended standards.

Mayor Sue Lesch said Norwalk's fire department just doesn't have the manpower to meet recommendations now, but the issue needs to be considered in the discussion of a new fire station for the city.

"I want to do it with our eyes wide open," Lesch said.

Council also learned that Fisher-Titus Medical Center would like to have the old Foodtown building rezoned to develop it as part of the hospital campus.

In their work session, council members resumed their discussion about exterior furnaces. Lesch suggested a ban on exterior furnaces last year and citizens have come forward to both support and argue against that idea at several council meetings.

Exterior furnaces can create a problem for neighbors if the stacks pipes for the smoke are not high enough. While fireplace chimneys are always higher than a structure, stacks might be just a few feet above an exterior furnace and lower than surrounding buildings.

Council members said they must create legislation that allows people to heat their homes affordably, but also protects neighbors from smoke and noxious fumes.

Residents who use exterior furnaces asked council to consider the investment they have made.

"You guys have done a great job. You're headed in the right direction," said Kelly Beck, who uses an exterior furnace. He said his furnace meets Environmental Protection Agency standards, but other residents have indoor furnaces that don't meet those standards.

"Why should my stove be treated any differently?," Beck asked.

Mike Patterson, who uses an exterior furnace for his Chatham Street home, said he was worried about investing more money to raise his stack if council eventually banned the device.

"You're asking me to make a significant investment and I want to make sure it is a wise investment," he said.

Council made no decision in its work session and will continue consideration of regulations or a ban for exterior furnaces in future meetings.

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